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SJ Berwin and King & Wood Mallesons agree to merge

Aim to create a US$1bn ‘global law firm for the future’ based in Asia  

31 July 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

SJ Berwin and King & Wood Mallesons have announced today that they will combine to create the first global law firm headquartered in Asia.

SJ Berwin has agreed that its name will disappear, though the firm will be known in Europe and the Middle East for a transitional period as King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin.

The 1 November 2013 combination will give the firm around US$1bn (£657m) in revenues, ranking it among the 25 largest law firms in the world. SJ Berwin reported turnover of £184.6m in 2012/13.

The new firm will have more than 2,700 lawyers, including more than 550 partners in 30 locations around the world. The bulk of SJ Berwin’s 346 lawyers and 165 partners are based in Europe, of which more than half are in London. The vast majority of King & Wood Mallesons’ 1,887 lawyers and 388 partners are based in China, Australia and Hong Kong.

 “Throughout its history, SJ Berwin has prided itself on being innovative. It has been prepared to be bold and challenge the market. This combination was the logical next step for the network,” said Stephen Kon, senior partner at SJ Berwin. “It positions our clients, partners and people to engage fully with the Asian Century, representing an opportunity for us to build a law firm for the future.”

“There are significant synergies between our firms,” added King & Wood Mallesons’ chair, Wang Junfeng. “We share the same values, goals, client focus and entrepreneurial drive. King & Wood Mallesons has always been a pioneer in Asia and the combination with SJ Berwin cements our position as the global law firm for the future.”

An SJ Berwin representative said that “SJ Berwin remains a strong and locally managed business”. SJ Berwin’s senior partner, Stephen Kon, and managing partner, Rob Day, will join the new firm’s international management committee, which will contain equal representation from each firm. Kon and Day will be joined at the committee by two further representatives from SJ Berwin. 

Stuart Fuller will continue as global managing partner of King & Wood Mallesons, alongside Wang JunFeng as global chair. SJ Berwin’s Kon will join Stephen Minns as deputy chair of the new firm. Wang Ling and Sue Kench will remain regional managing partners for China and Australia, respectively, while SJ Berwin’s Day will become regional managing partner for Europe and the Middle East. 

SJ Berwin will join the Swiss Verein network as its fourth member firm and operate alongside King & Wood Mallesons Hong Kong, King & Wood Mallesons Australia and King & Wood Mallesons China, each of which is known as King & Wood Mallesons. 

SJ Berwin will change its name to King & Wood Mallesons in November but will trade for a transitional period under the name King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin in the UK, continental Europe and the Middle East.

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