Squire Sanders hikes Latin American presence with Steel Hector marriage

US law firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey beat almost a dozen firms to secure its merger with Miami-based Steel Hector & Davis last week, creating one of the first global firms with a strong presence in Latin America.

The announcement last Tuesday (6 September) ends months of negotiations and creates an 800-lawyer firm with 37 offices plus affiliated offices in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US.

Steel Hector indicated that it had been approached by up to a dozen other firms about a merger during the past year. The firm’s Miami headquarters and offices in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Santiago and Santo Domingo were the key attractions for Squire Sanders.

Squire Sanders’ only previous Latin American office was in Rio de Janeiro. Despite its ambitions for the region, the newly merged firm will not continue Steel Hector’s affiliations with firms in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Tel Aviv, Israel.

The merger has also resulted in the lay-off of more than a dozen staff and lawyers. It is understood that most of Steel Hector’s marketing, IT and accounting departments have been axed.

As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com, the combined firm will be called Squire Sanders & Dempsey, although the Steel Hector name will remain on letterheads and business cards for a transition period.

Squire Sanders reported gross revenues of $393.5m (£213.5m) for 2004-05. When combined with Steel Hector’s revenues of $57.3m (£31.1m), the tie-up is expected to propel the firm into the US’s top 40 law firms based on revenue. Squire Sanders ranked 52nd in this year’s AmLaw rankings.