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UK Firms Not in a US-Merging Mood

Posted Sep 21, 2007 7:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Almost half of U.S. law firms in London would consider merging with a U.K. firm—if they could find a partner willing to get hitched.

A survey by Legal Week found 47 percent of U.S. firms are open to a merger, up from 39 percent last year and 29 percent in 2005.

U.S. firms are likely eager to grow through mergers because they are having trouble recruiting rainmakers from London firms, the publication says. But they also are likely to have problems finding willing merger partners.

Anil Shah, managing director of recruiter LPA Legal, said merger mania is calming and “we could see a period of abeyance."

The publication says the problem is partly because U.S. firms are downright unattractive.

“The U.S. firms in London are seen by many potential recruits as short-term sweatshops,” the publication says. “Likewise, the initial surge of U.S. law firms in London has long since lost its power to impress jaded city lawyers. Where once top Wall Street brands could be relied upon to shock and awe, many U.K. lawyers now see such firms as provincially focused, albeit very successful, businesses unprepared for the global legal age and certainly not ready to do serious business in the Square Mile.”

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