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K&L Gates and and Hughes & Luce, a Texas firm, have announced a merger the two firms say will help Texas businesses find their way in to the global market. Hughes & Luce has approximately 150 lawyers at its Dallas headquarters and offices in Fort Worth and Austin. The merged firm will have more than 1,500 lawyers in a network of 23 offices � 18 spanning the United States plus Beijing, Berlin, Hong Kong, London and Taipei. The combined firm will be known formerly as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP and, less formally, as K&L Gates. The merger is effective Jan. 1, 2008. “Merger mania continues,” said Bill Brennan, a principal with the law firm consultancy Altman Weil, Inc. “This shows that the size of law firms merging is continuing to increase in size. Instead of firms with 25 and 50 lawyers merging we are seeing acquisitions of firms with 150 to 200 lawyers.” ‘A legal bridge’ In a written statement Peter Kalis, chairman and global managing partner at K&L Gates, and Edward Coultas, managing partner at Hughes & Luce, said the merged firm will “serve Texas businesses as a legal bridge to the globalized economy of the 21st century.” The statement made clear the merger is as much about bringing the world economy to Texas as Texas to the world, noting that the Lone Star state is home to one in 10 Fortune 1000 companies, is central to the global oil industry and “an enviable number of middle market and emerging growth companies, funds and financial institutions, prominent universities, and individual entrepreneurs.” “Texas is a huge market place, larger than many countries, and very important in the national and international marketplace,” said Brennan. “A large law firm needs to have Texas covered to be considered a truly national law firm.” The merger pushes K&L Gates higher on the list of the nation’s largest law firms, though still far from the top. The NLJ‘s 2007 census of the nation’s 250 largest firms placed DLA Piper, with 3,623 attorneys, at the zenith followed by Baker & McKenzie with 3,335 attorneys.

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