Following management meetings held yesterday, the firms are now preparing to hold a series of partner meetings in which they will recommend going ahead with a merger of equals.
Documents detailing the terms of the merger will be forwarded to all partners next week, with both partnerships expected to vote on the matter by the middle of December. If the vote is successful, the merger will complete by 1 May next year.
Lovells managing partner David Harris (pictured) said the firm’s management had been supportive of the move given the “strong similarities” in the firms’ values.
He added: “Both of us are seeking to create a truly global law firm capable of delivering a top quality service across the world’s major commercial and legal markets.
“We have very complementary areas of legal strength, such as in corporate, M&A, finance, regulatory law, dispute resolution and intellectual property.”
Hogan chairman Warren Gorrell added: “The Hogan & Hartson/Lovells combination complements each firm’s capabilities from a practice, geographic, and industry perspective, and would preserve the collegial and team-oriented cultures of each firm and our commitments to community service.”
As reported by The Lawyer earlier this month, Lovells is proposing to abandon its lockstep, which has been modified over the last few years, to help push the merger through (12 October 2009).
Lovells management can freeze or reverse the positions of underperforming partners on its current lockstep, although to date no provision has been made to reward exceptional performers.
The top 10 firm has long lagged behind its City counterparts in profitability, and with an average profit per equity partner (PEP) figure of £586,000 for 2008-09, remuneration of star performers is an issue.
As Hogan operates a purely merit-based system, it is understood that Lovells will promote the potential for adopting that system as a selling point of the merger.
The proposed merger would create a top 10 global law firm with approximately 2,500 lawyers in 40 offices located throughout the US, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.