Wedlake Bell hints at US merger

Wedlake Bell is launching its first joint practice group with associated US firm Fredrikson & Byron.

And head of the newly-formed e-commerce group Jonathan Cornthwaite hints that it may be the first step towards full merger.

The two firms, which established an alliance in 1996, have set up an e-business group which will target start-ups and companies aiming to go online.

Cornthwaite says that payment methods for the former will include “staggered fees, discounts or some form of share options”.

A group of 30 lawyers in the UK and US will work in the e-business group.

Cornthwaite says that the venture is part of a long-term plan to develop the firms' relationship.

He concedes that a date for full merger has not been established but adds: “We certainly would not rule anything out, particularly as the e-commerce world is moving so fast. We are looking forward to a much closer relationship with them.”