The shock news that the name SJ Berwin might be about to disappear from the world is today’s number one legal market water-cooler topic.
As we exclusively report today, the firm is gearing up for a vote on a global merger with Asia-Pacific firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) that would see the UK outfit’s name disappear.
Instead, any resulting deal would see SJ Berwin become one of four partnerships under KWM’s Swiss Verein and its name, a fixture of the UK market since since the firm was founded in 1982 by Stanley Berwin, disappear forever.
The deal raises many questions, not least how the UK firm will deal with pesky security issues, although as a verein it may feel shielded from any potential negative impact. After all, Mallesons seemed to be ok with it.
It also answers a few questions, such as what exactly strategy director Rachel Reid and managing partner Rob Day were doing mooching around Hong Kong a week ago.
Merger talks are understood to have been under way for around a year. Word is SJ Berwin partners are considerably more upbeat about this tie-up than with the long, drawn-out and ultimately fruitless discussions with New York’s Proskauer Rose in 2010, which failed 12.
Presumably that means that the majority at least have already come to terms with saying zai jian to the firm’s starry, starry name.
Anyway, there’s always another firm out there keeping the Berwin name alive in the shape of BLP. And we all know how well that one’s doing.
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