Herbies merge, Field Fisher and LG diverge

It’s been over a year since The Lawyer first reported that Herbert Smith had set its sights on launching in Australia, but today the deal has finally been sealed with the firm announcing that it will merge with Freehills.

When the story first appeared it was met with much cynicism, with commentators speculating that the UK firm would never overcome its inertia and actually get a deal done. But not only have Herbert Smith partners voted to combine with the Asia Pacific firm, they have chosen to do so through full financial integration – none of this Swiss Verein nonsense for Herbies.

The firms are still waiting on regulatory approvals, but the merged business is expected to go live on 1 October and will be called Herbert Smith Freehills and not Freebies as some of the wittier commentators on TheLawyer.com suggested.

The news comes as Field Fisher Waterhouse and Lawrence Graham call off merger talks that would have created a firm with around £150m revenue. Lawrence Graham and Field Fisher had been in talks since late last year, but the proposal never made it to a partner vote as management called time on discussions earlier this month.

Both firms are still keen on the idea of a merger though. Just as well there’s no shortage of willing partners in the market.