Kirkpatrick goes DLA-lite

On Preston Gates’ website it claims the firm’s roots stretch back to 1883, when “Harold Preston arrived in Seattle on a train from Iowa”.

Now Peter Kalis has arrived on a plane from Pittsburgh, it’s time for the next chapter.

Kalis, head of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, has always had grand ambitions for his firm. Now they have become abundantly clear.

Kirkpatrick was looking to do a DLA Piper-style tripartite merger, snapping up Salans to gain a widespread European platform, while concurrently aiming to plant itself squarely on the West Coast and in the Asian market with the acquisition of Preston Gates & Ellis.

In September (The Lawyer, 11 September) Kalis confirmed that his firm had “had discussions” with groups and firms that would, as he put it, “put Kirkpatrick on the map” on the Continent, in Asia and in new markets in the US. “We’re in the market to investigate opportunities,” Kalis said. “More often than not they don’t pan out.”

Well, Salans didn’t, but Preston Gates looks like it will. Seattle-based Preston Gates has offices in Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing, along with eight sites in the US.

But the 420-lawyer firm also had average profit per equity partner last year of just £185,000. That’s less than Cobbetts. The discussions on how many partners are going to enter Kirkpatrick’s equity should be interesting.