King & Wood Mallesons &… Someone Else

Time was that two firms looking at a merger that would create a £150m player in the UK market would have caused some excitement. But now it seems that any kind of expansion within the UK is met with the response: “They should be looking at China”.

There’s good news for UK firms though: Asia-Pacific powerhouse King & Wood Mallesons wants to meet you half way. Only two months after Aussie outfit Mallesons and China’s King & Wood officially merged, the combined firm is mulling how best to expand into the US and UK (see story).

The firm’s global managing partner Stuart Fuller spoke at a conference earlier this month about how the firm was now looking at linking up with a firm in North America and later confirmed to The Lawyer that the US and UK were definitely on the agenda.

Nixon Peabody and SJ Berwin are two firms that have already been associated with King & Wood Mallesons. Fuller would only confirm that he was talking to one of those two, without specifying which.

And while we’re free to speculate on which firm (Nixon Peabody or SJ Berwin) is talking to King & Wood Mallesons, in both cases there are road blocks. Nixon Peabody only recently announced an alliance with another Chinese firm, while SJ Berwin is said to be still engaged in discussions with Mayer Brown.

But with consolidation among law firms going at the rate it is, it’s probably wise to have a few balls in the air at once.