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Mayer Brown Merges With Hong Kong Firm

Posted Dec 21, 2007 1:25 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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In a move that will boost Mayer Brown's presence in Asia, Mayer Brown announced Friday that is has agreed to merge with Hong Kong's venerable banking and finance firm Johnson Stokes & Master.

The merger is the firm's most significant expansion since it combined with London's Rowe & Maw in 2002, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) reports. Joining forces with Johnson Stokes will better position Mayer Brown in one of the world's fastest-growing legal markets. The merger is effective Jan. 28.

"Our plan is to be one of a handful of global elite law firms," James Holzhauer, chairman of Mayer Brown's management committee, told the Tribune on Thursday night. "We can't do that without a major presence in Asia."

The Tribune notes that the positive news is welcome after negative publicity surrounding the indictment of a partner this week.

"It's been a year that obviously has had some bumpiness," Holzhauer is quoted saying. "But we have done some things that we needed to do to ensure the future of the law firm, and this [merger] is a big part of that."

The merger with Johnson Stokes, which was founded in 1863, will bring an additional 260 lawyers on board, edging the firm's worldwide attorney presence to more than 1,750. In addition to offices in Hong Kong and mainland China, the combined firm will now also have offices in Thailand and Vietnam.

The Financial Times reports that the new firm, to be known in Asia as Mayer Brown JSM, will be the world's 10th-largest by revenue. Holzhauer will chair the global firm’s central policy and planning committee, and Elaine Lo, chairwoman of JSM’s partnership board, will head the combined entity’s Asia board, FT reports.

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