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K&L Gates underlined potential fractures in the impending merger between Hogan & Hartson and Lovells last week when it scooped the US firm’s entire operations in Warsaw.
The 38 lawyers due to join K&L Gates on 15 March include six partners and office head Maciej Jamka, who signalled that the exit of the Warsaw office was a direct result of the imminent merger.
“Probably the merger’s a good idea from a global perspective but in terms of the local market, where both Hogan and Lovells have strong offices, we’d basically be duplicating the work,” Jamka told The Lawyer.
Jamka refused to be drawn on the precise nature of his concerns regarding the merger but said he believed the process of merging the two offices would “probably be painful”.
The likelihood is that the deal with Lovells’ larger Warsaw office would have created the biggest international law firm in the city and would also have most likely resulted in staff and lawyer reductions.
Jamka, however, pointed to a more positive scenario of a better dealflow from K&L Gates than Hogan, thanks to the former’s larger US office network.
“We hope for and expect a better dealflow as K&L Gates, unlike Hogan, is not only big in DC and New York, but covers the entire US,” Jamka said. “That makes it closer to the clients.”
When the office goes live next week it will be K&L Gates’ 36th location worldwide and its third new office launch this year, following January openings in both Tokyo and Moscow.
It is thought it will add up to $10m (£6.70m) in revenue for the US firm, along with a client base focused on both local and international matters.
In a statement Jamka said he and his team had “enjoyed and appreciated” being part of Hogan & Hartson for almost 20 years.
“We all wish our colleagues there much success as they move ahead as Hogan Lovells,” he added.
K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis said Warsaw was a strategic location for a global law firm.
“We’re delighted that this distinguished group of practitioners will found K&L Gates’ Warsaw office,” he added. “Poland is a top 20 global economy and one that has withstood the challenges of the global financial crisis.”
Last year K&L Gates set up what it called a task force featuring Kalis, along with a group of internationally focused partners aimed at identifying jurisdictions in which it needed to be present.
The other partners included European managing partner Martin Lane, London administrative partner Tony Griffiths, London senior partner Michael Johns and Rüdiger von Hülst in Berlin.
In particular the task force focused on identifying further European expansion opportunities. The priorities included Moscow and Warsaw, home to one of the largest economies in Europe and the sole EU member that had no quarter of negative GDP during 2009.
Both strategic targets will have been achieved when K&L Gates’ new Warsaw office goes live next week.
Hogan chairman Warren Gorrell said: “We fully support this arrangement and are working with our Warsaw lawyers and their new firm to facilitate a smooth transition.”
The focus of Hogan’s Warsaw office includes advising international clients and the Polish government on foreign investments. It has a broad range of transactional, advisory and dispute resolution services.