McKenna & Co and Cameron Markby Hewitt, which have merged to form the UK's eighth largest law firm, are looking to headhunt lawyers.
The firms went public with one of the legal community's worst kept secrets when they announced just before Christmas that they were to merge from 1 May 1997 to become Cameron McKenna.
Managing partner designate Robert Derry-Evans, who is managing partner at McKennas, said both firms' profits were above budget and they were eager to take on lawyers in their corporate, finance and healthcare sectors.
He said the firms had already employed 30 extra fee earners in the run-up to the merger, but was unable to specify how many more lawyers the merged firm was looking to recruit.
Cameron McKenna will have 148 partners, 650 fee earners, seven major practice groups and nine international offices.
Derry-Evans described the merger as inevitable.
“Both firms recognise there is increasing pressure in the legal market and firms of our size, with our range of practices are not really in a position where they can go super niche. We need to increase the range of service and we need to increase the depth of resources.”
Cameron McKenna senior partner designate Bill Shelford, who is currently Camerons senior partner, said elections would be held for a partnership council of eight members. Shelford will chair the council until April 2000, and direct the operation and management of the firm while playing a pastoral role in relation to partners.
Derry-Evans will share many of Shelford's duties while being responsible for the overall direction, strategy and policy of the firm, initially until April 2001.
Denton Hall, which pulled out of a possible tripartite merge in November, declined to comment. But Paul Downing, who heads Price Waterhouse's network of European law firms, said it was a shame Dentons had pulled out and suggested there was still a need for Cameron McKenna to merge with another firm to make it a major force.
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