Kirkpatrick Preston Gates merger creates $750m giant

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham confirmed last night (14 December) that it is to merge with US firm Preston Gates & Ellis.

The merger, which takes effect on 1 January 2007, will create a new firm called Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis but which will be branded K&L Gates. The deal, and the corresponding name change, marks the disappearance from the brand of the legacy UK firm, Nicholson Graham & Jones.

The UK will continue to be represented on the new firm’s executive committee, with London corporate head Martin Lane taking a seat on the seven-partner board. Lane joined Kirkpatrick last year from Pinsent Masons, where he was London managing partner.

The executive committee itself is believed to be one of the most diverse governance bodies in the legal market. It includes two women, one Asian-American man, and one African-American man.

Kirkpatrick’s London office head Tony Griffiths said the London partners had voted unanimously for the name change, having traded the goodwill in the Nicholson Graham name over the past two years in the transition to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

“We believe we will now have the names with the most resonance in the merged firm,” said Griffiths.

Kirkpatrick chairman Peter Kalis becomes chairman and global managing partner of the new firm, while Preston Gates & Ellis managing partner Karen Glover will take up a role as global integration partner.

K&L Gates will be a 1,400 lawyer-firm with 21 offices across the US, Europe and Asia. The firm will be expected to have revenue exceeding $750m in 2007, its first full year of existence, a total that would make it comfortably one of the top-30 largest firms in the world on current numbers.