MJ Hudson and Jersey’s VerrasLaw forge rare onshore-offshore merger

Asset management boutique MJ Hudson and Jersey firm VerrasLaw have agreed to merge, in a bid to become a global alternative asset law firm.

The two firms will formally merge once regulatory approval has been obtained. Until then, they will work in association and trade under the name MJ Hudson.

The move is designed to provide clients with a one-stop shop capability advising on both onshore and offshore issues for funds, investment, corporate finance and M&A matters. It comes ahead of a planned launch in Hong Kong later this year and also possible expansion into neighbouring Guernsey, most likely through lateral hires.

VerrasLaw was founded in 2008 by Jonathan Bale and Hiren Patel, who previously worked at larger offshore firms including Walkers and Appleby. MJ Hudson was launched in 2010 by former SJ Berwin partner Matthew Hudson (19 July 2010).

MJ Hudson managing partner Eamon Devlin called the merger a “timely and client driven innovation for our sector”, adding that VerrasLaw’s strategy of targeting asset manager clients directly rather than relying on onshore law firm referrals would give the combined firm a greater client base.

“Clients find the need to have two law firms frankly frustrating,” Devlin said. ”They find it strange that this happens at all, that we have this parallel universe of onshore and offshore firms.”

Bale and Patel added that the merger would help clients who had needs for advice in other jurisdictions.

Onshore firms have traditionally shied away from opening bases in offshore jurisdictions, although Irish firm Dillon Eustace launched a Cayman Islands office last year (23 April 2012) in response to client demand for offshore funds products. US litigation boutique Kobre & Kim launched dispute resolution-focused bases in both Cayman (10 July 2012) and the British Virgin Islands (16 May 2012) last year, while Withers has been present in the BVI for four years (30 March 2009).