International Law

UK's Ashurst and Australia's Blake Dawson Plan Major Global Firm with Focus on Asia

In a move intended to create a global law firm with a strong presence in one of the world’s rapidly growing legal markets, major law firms in the United Kingdom and Australia have announced their plans to merge their Asian practices.

Ashurst and Blake Dawson conditionally agreed on Friday to merge their practices in a two-step process that would create a nearly 1,750-attorney law firm with annual revenue of about $858 million, according to Legal Week.

They will combine their Asia practices early next year. The partners of the two firms will then vote on a full merger in 2014.

“We think much of the commercial world will be dominated by English law and New York law, and so far there has not yet been the creation of a serious law firm that is equally strong in the U.S., Britain and the Asia-Pacific,” Ashurst senior partner Charles Geffen told the Australian. “We see this as very much part of that process.”

Blake Dawson, which is only slightly smaller and less profitable than its merger partner, will adopt the Ashurst brand in March, when the two firms combine their Asia practices. The new regime in Asia will be headed by Geoffrey Green, who preceded Geffen in the senior partner role.

The Financial Times says Blake Dawson, which has been in business 160 years, will also operate under the Ashurst banner in Australia as of 2012.

The average profit per equity partner at Ashurst in 2010-2011 was 723,000 pounds (a little over $1.1 million in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate).

There will be about 150 lawyers in the combined Asian practice, but Geffen said the firms plan to enlarge the practice group, using Asia as a base, according to the Australian.

A law firm press release provides additional details.

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