Two US firms merge to create 370-strong team

Two of the largest firms in the south-eastern states of the US will merge early next year.

The merger of Atlanta-based Kilpatrick & Cody and Carolina-based Petree Stockton will create a 370-strong team of lawyers, placing it among the top 50 law firms in the US.

It will have a stronghold of five offices in the south-eastern states, an office in Washington and European offices in London and Brussels.

The firm will officially begin to practise under the name Kilpatrick Stockton in February. Petrees senior partner Ralph Stockton and Kilpatricks partner Miles Alexander will serve as co-chairs of the new firm. Tim Carssow, of Kilpatricks, will be the managing partner.

Martin Tilsen, chair of Kilpatricks’ practice development committee, said plans to extend into Latin America had been discussed since the talks began. He said: “We will respond to the work as it arises. We are already active in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica. We will also use our offices in London and Brussells to assert ourselves in Europe.”

Tilsen said the merger would significantly strengthen Kilpatricks’ intellectual property, employment, corporate transactional, healthcare and communication departments, and provide a foothold in the US’s fastest growing cities: Atlanta, Rawley and Charlotte.

Keith Ott, Kilpatricks senior partner in London, said the transition from an Atlanta-based firm to a south-eastern US firm would have a significant effect on the London office.

“It will broaden our ability to deal with European companies wanting to set up in the States and will mean more US companies wanting to set up in Europe will come to us. This could lead to an expansion of our London staff,” he said.

Frank Murphy, of Petree Stocktons, who will be deputy managing partner of the new firm, confirmed that Petrees had been looking at different ways of expanding its opportunities in the south-eastern states for some time. “A merger with Kilpatricks was a perfect opportunity for us. Our two firms are very similar in outlook and culture. We expect to grow and expand internationally in the next few years,” he said.

The merger will be simplified because both firms operate the Elite computer system.