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Holland & Knight, Thompson & Knight to Merge by August (1)

June 28, 2021, 6:24 PM; Updated: June 28, 2021, 8:19 PM

Holland & Knight and Thompson & Knight have set “on or about August 1, 2021" as the date to make their merger official, according to a joint statement provided to Bloomberg Law on Monday.

“The announcement follows favorable votes by the Holland & Knight Directors Committee and Thompson & Knight partnership, and the execution of a definitive merger agreement by both firms,” the statement said.

The combined firm will also operate under the Holland & Knight name, according to the statement.

The finalization of the tie-up later this summer will mark one of the most substantial law firm combinations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year and create one of the largest firms in the U.S., with a projected 1,600 lawyers across 30 offices.

Holland & Knight and Thompson & Knight first announced in April that they were in talks to merge, with a tentative closing date set for the summer of 2021.

Dallas-based Thompson & Knight is the smaller of the two firms, with roughly 300 lawyers across nine offices and has been known for its work in oil and gas focused private equity and M&A as well as other areas like real estate. Roughly a decade ago, the firm was in merger talks with Reed Smith, though the deal ultimately fell through.

Miami-based Holland & Knight, was founded in Florida and has roughly 1,300 lawyers across 27 offices, with strengths in government, litigation, and real estate, as well as a strong Latin American corporate and securities practice.

The finalization of the merger plans between the two firms comes amid a series of partner departures from Thompson & Knight since the tie-up was announced.

Earlier this month, O’Melveny & Myers picked up four lawyers from Thompson & Knight to launch its office in Austin, including the head of O’Melveny’s office in the Texan capital, Philip Oldham, as well as Katie Coleman, who was firmwide head of Thompson & Knight’s government and regulatory practice.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld added Wesley Williams, former leader of Thompson & Knight’s corporate and securities practice, and Jessica Hammons in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas as well as corporate partners Jesse Betts and Cole Bredthauer, who served as leader of Thompson & Knight’s Fort Worth office.

Holt Foster, former head of Thompson & Knight’s Dallas office and member of the firm’s management committee, joined Sidley Austin as co-leader of its energy practice. Baker Botts picked up Shad Sumrow, the former firmwide finance practice leader at Thompson & Knight, as well as executive benefits and compensation partner Jason Loden. Winston & Strawn added capital markets duo Douglas Lionberger and James Brown in Houston.

Merger Ready

The tie-up between Thompson & Knight and Holland & Knight would be one of the largest announced firm combinations in 2021, which has seen a bounce-back in law firm merger activity compared to the year prior.

“We see a lot of discussions going on,” said Lisa Smith, a principal at Washington-based law firm consultancy Fairfax Associates.

The decline over the last year in mergers wasn’t due to a lack of interest, but rather the logistical impact of the pandemic and accompanying uncertainty about the market, Smith said, particularly in the beginning and middle of the year. Now, there is a lot of confidence going into the second half of the year and into 2022, which she said is fueling merger interest.

Over the first three months of 2021, 26 mergers were announced and since then there have been several other high-profile firms in merger talks.

Last week, St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn said it would acquire the 44-lawyer New York-based financial and litigation firm Hahn & Hessen, and Crowell & Moring said it would acquire 60-lawyer Chicago intellectual property firm Brinks Gilson & Lione in its largest acquisition in firm history. Chicago-based Schiff Hardin is also reportedly in merger talks with Washington-based Arent Fox that would create a 600-lawyer firm.

“I do think that we’re seeing firms who were somewhat merger averse in the past be open to it as a strategic choice,” Smith said.

(Updated to include additional information about the merger and comments from Lisa Smith throughout)

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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