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Eversheds and Sutherland to Combine in Transatlantic Merger

Dec. 16, 2016, 4:33 PM

In what’s shaping up to be an active year-end for law firm mergers, London-based Eversheds and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan of Atlanta have announced that they will combine after months of discussions to create a Transatlantic legal behemoth.

Partners at the firms voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the combination, the firms announced Friday.

The deal is expected to create a law firm with more than 2,300 lawyers across 31 offices in 29 countries. It would place the firm among the 40 largest in the world by revenue, with more than $900 million, according to 2015 financial figures in The American Lawyer.

“It does feel good to have this process behind us, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mark Wasserman, managing partner of Sutherland, in an interview.

Starting Feb. 1, both firms will be known as Eversheds Sutherland, operating under a newly formed entity, focusing on specialties in tax, litigation, financial services, insurance, energy, corporate and real estate.

However, both firms will preserve their independent pay and promotion systems, which Wasserman declined to specify.

The new firm will be led by co-CEOs as part of a six-member management team, overseen by a global board of ten lawyers with equal representation from both firms. Wasserman said that the firm is not announcing the members at this time.

“There will be more on that coming,” he said. “We have gotten a long way down that path, but I think we need to do some more things internally.”

The announcement comes after the two firms have been in discussions since the spring time, Wasserman said. The announcement is just the latest of a string of law firm merger talks in the final months of the year, after a relatively quiet first three quarters of 2016.

In November, Arnold & Porter of Washington and Kaye Scholer of New York announced that the two firms would combine on Jan. 1; just this week, news emerged that Crowell & Moring is in talks with Herrick Feinstein; and for months, multiple law firms have been in talks to acquire the European arm of King & Wood Mallesons, in whole or in part.

Kent Zimmermann, a consultant who sometimes puts law firm mergers together, said the consolidation has been driven, at least in part, by in-house counsel hiring fewer outside law firms.

“That’s a process that a lot of sophisticated clients are going through,” he said, “and a lot of firms are losing out.”

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