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Herbert Smith and Freehills agree to merge

28 June 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

International law firm Herbert Smith and Australian law firm Freehills confirmed today that their partnerships have voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging to create a new firm, Herbert Smith Freehills.

The new firm will focus on providing an integrated service to clients across its 20 offices. This will be a full equity merger, with a single profit pool from day one. Launch of the firm is targeted for 1 October 2012.

The merged firm will be organised around global practice groups and will be led by joint CEOs David Willis and Gavin Bell, the current managing partners of Herbert Smith and Freehills, respectively.

Willis, Bell and partners from both firms will sit on the global governing council. Partners and COOs from both firms will form the global executive.

With 2,800 lawyers (including 460 partners), Herbert Smith Freehills will be the eighth largest law firm in the world based on total lawyer numbers. It will also be the largest fully-integrated law firm in Asia Pacific by revenues and number of partners, with strengths in commercial law, energy and resources, and dispute resolution (including litigation).

Freehills has a leading position in Australasia, while Herbert Smith has strengths in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the UK. The firms say they have complementary client bases, cultures and practice groups.

Says Willis: “We share with Freehills a strong belief that over the next few years the market for premium legal services will become increasingly dominated by a small number of truly global firms. This merger will therefore put us in a strong position to provide clients with the single global offering they increasingly demand.”

Adds Bell: “Establishing from day one a single, integrated firm will give all partners the incentive to work together toward a set of shared goals and ensure a seamless service to clients.”

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