Media and entertainment firms Forbes Anderson Free and Lee & Thompson have announced they are merging, creating a £13.5m firm with over 60 fee-earners.

Litigation boutique Forbes Anderson Free’s seven lawyers, including four partners, will join Lee & Thompson on 1 January 2016. 

The merger will bring the total number of partners at the firm to 24 with more than 30 other lawyers, and will swell Lee & Thompson’s media litigation team to 13 lawyers including seven partners.

At the same time Lee & Thompson will also bring on board WilmerHale employment partner David Andrews. Andrews’ move follows the US firm’s decision to close its small City transactional office earlier this year to focus on arbitration in Mayfair.

Lee & Thompson brought in turnover of £9.8m in 2014/15, according to LLP accounts, of which £5.6m was net profit.

Both Forbes Anderson Free and Lee & Thompson have established client lists in the media and creative industries. Lee & Thompson advises a raft of film and sport companies and celebrities and bands including One Direction, David Beckham and Queen as well as the majority of British independent film and television production companies.

Forbes Anderson Free has acted for clients including EMI, Sony Music and Universal Music on a series of High Court disputes in recent years, according to data gathered by The Lawyer Market Intelligence.

Lee & Thompson managing partner Reno Antoniades said there was some client crossover and “a lot of complementary relationships”.

Antoniades added there were a “number of connections between the firms” and that they had been discussing the tie up for some months.

“The more we talked it became very clear that it was a very sensible and good thing to do,” he said. “From a business point of view it makes tremendous sense and from a cultural and personal point of view it’s a perfect fit.”

Forbes Anderson Free managing partner Andrew Forbes added that the firm had been looking for a way to further develop its practice while remaining focused on litigation.

“We’re going to make a media powerhouse,” he added.

Forbes will head Lee & Thompson’s dispute resolution group after the merger completes. Current litigation head Gordon Williams will continue to head up the brand protection group, with Mike Brookes retaining his role as head of reputation management. Antoniades will continue as managing partner.