There are two reasons, each dispositive in its own right, that an elite transatlantic law firm merger isn’t going to happen: the elite US firms have sufficient presence in London not to want one, and the UK firms have insufficient profitability to afford one. Might a UK firm merge with a US player below the elite? Possibly, but the practice synergy is much weaker, and the viable US firms would not have the prestige to be compelling to the elite UK firm’s partners. If this latter didn’t scuttle the combination, it would sabotage the integration.

Let’s start with the U.S. elite. To define this group, we looked at the firms with Band 1 Chambers USA Nationwide rankings in either of corporate law’s two most prestigious practices: corporate/M&A and capital markets. This identified the eight firms shown in Table 1; the table also shows these firms’ UK rankings for the comparable practices. Six of the eight firms have ranked practices in the UK. For these, merging with a UK firm is a less compelling way to bolster these practices than is organic growth and lateral acquisition. The two US firms that don’t have a ranked London presence, Cravath and Wachtell, are unlikely to want a London merger partner. As high-end specialists, their business models require they be independent of any one London firm so that they can act as US counsel on mega matters to a myriad of London firms. Hence, there’s no compelling logic for an elite US firm to find a London merger partner.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]