K&L Gates eyes tie-up with Australia’s Middletons

US firm K&L Gates is the latest firm to set its sights on the Australian market with a proposed combination with Australian firm Middletons on the cards.


K&L Gates and Middletons have confirmed that they are in discussions regarding a possible combination. The discussions have been underway for several months with formal proposals expected to be presented to both partnerships later this year if the talks are moved forward.

If the combination goes through, it would create a 2,000-lawyer firm with 45 offices throughout Australia, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Middletons is a Melbourne-based national firm in Australia. According to Australian magazine BRW’s 2012 Top 30 law firms ranking, Middletons’ turnover in the 2011-12 financial year was estimated at A$112m (£74.5m), ranking it in 16th place. The firm has 67 partners and 213 lawyers with offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

K&L Gates reported gross revenues of $1bn (£636.4m) and average profit per partner of $890,000 for the 2011 financial year. The firm has over 1,700 lawyers and 41 offices, 17 of which are outside of the US.

The firms will announce further details upon the resolution of discussions.

Squire Sanders is the most recent US firm to establish a presence in Australia with a bolt-on merger. In October 2011, the firm merged with with the majority of Minter Ellison’s Perth office in Western Australia (18 August 2011).