UPDATE: 2/4/16, 11:45 a.m. EST. Greenberg Traurig Maher’s U.K. financials slipped 6 percent in the year ending March 31, 2015, according to sibling publication Legal Week.
Greenberg Traurig, an Am Law 100 firm with Miami roots known for its spectacular growth over the past few decades, said Wednesday that it is in preliminary merger discussions with a large British firm, Berwin Leighton Paisner.
“When opportunities to execute our strategies are presented, we will act on these, because we owe it to our clients and our lawyers to explore them,” Greenberg Traurig chairman Richard Rosenbaum said in a statement. Rosenbaum declined to comment further on the potential U.K. tie-up.
The news comes just two weeks after Greenberg Traurig made headlines with its hire of former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani from Bracewell & Giuliani, stripping Bracewell of its high-profile name partner.
Greenberg Traurig, already a 1,950-attorney firm, would expand to roughly 2,500 lawyers if it consummates a merger with BLP. Greenberg Traurig said in its statement that its “senior leadership is working to assess the merits of this opportunity over the coming months and, if it moves forward, it will share more information.”
Lisa Mayhew, BLP’s managing partner, said in a statement that her 850-lawyer firm “has always been a game-changer in the legal sector and hungry to explore opportunities that will improve the quality and breath of our service to clients.” BLP added that its top leadership will work to “assess the merits of this opportunity over the coming months.”
Any merger would be subject to a partner vote at both firms.
London-based BLP was formed via a merger between two British firms in 2001. It is known as a solid, upper midmarket firm with one of the U.K.’s stronger real estate practices—an ideal synergy for Greenberg Traurig—but in recent years it has underperformed financially. Neville Eisenberg, BLP’s longtime managing partner, stepped down a year ago and was replaced by Mayhew, who beat out corporate head David Collins for the firm’s top leadership role. (Collins joined Dentons in December.)
BLP has been eager to embrace legal innovation. BLP corporate finance partner John Bennett spoke with The Am Law Daily in 2013 about the adoption of certain fixed-fee contracts with clients, while partner Simon Harper in London, a founder of the firm’s Lawyers on Demand service, was featured among The American Lawyer’s Top 50 Innovators.
BLP, which currently has a referral relationship with Holland & Knight, once had an alliance with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel that broke down in 2007.
Greenberg Traurig’s London office, which last year agreed to move to London’s Shard office tower, has operated since 2009 under the Greenberg Traurig Maher banner following its hire of former Mayer Brown global vice chairman Paul Maher. Last September, the firm bolstered its 50-lawyer London base by snagging tax partner Graham Iversen from Magic Circle shop Slaughter and May to replace retiring U.K. tax head Justin Hamer.
Greenberg Traurig’s European operations received a boost in 2012, when the firm took on 50 lawyers in Poland from foundering Dewey & LeBoeuf. Greenberg Traurig had been in merger talks with Dewey before getting spooked by the start of a criminal probe into the now-defunct firm’s leaders.