Posted Nov 23, 2011 08:05 pm CST
Partners of one of Australia’s top law firms voted today to approve a merger-like combination with the biggest law firm in China.
Partners of King & Wood are expected to vote tomorrow on the potential tie-up with 170-partner Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Legal Week reports. If approved, the melding of the two firms is expected to take place early next year.
“This is groundbreaking,” says law firm consultant Tony Williams, who at one time served as a managing partner of Clifford Chance.
“It is a clear message to US and UK firms that they will no longer be able to dominate the global legal market,” he tells the Financial Times (sub. req.).
Mallesons has confirmed only that it is talking about a merger with King & Wood, but the Financial Times reports that partners of the Australian firm voted today to approve it.
Because Chinese regulatory constraints preclude a full merger, the two law firms would combine in a Swiss verein structure, the Legal Week article explains.
The firm, which would be known as King & Wood Mallesons, would share back-office operations but separate the finances for its China and Australia offices, according to the article.
Legal Week points out that by combining with an Australian firm, King & Wood obtains a bigger international platform but avoids disrupting the referrals it obtains from law firms in the U.S. and United Kingdom.
King & Wood presently has 15 offices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, New York and Silicon Valley, according to its website.
The Mallesons website lists nine offices in Australia, China, Hong Kong and London.