If Keith Clark’s shoulders are sagging a little more than usual these days, there’s a good reason. As chairman of the world’s largest law firm, he’s carrying a globe on his back.

By the time this magazine arrives in your in-box, New York’s Rogers & Wells and Germany’s P�nder, Volhard, Weber & Axster will have merged with Clark’s firm, Clifford Chance, to create a new 3,000-lawyer global behemoth with estimated revenue of $1.2 billion its first full year. Will the firms’ herculean gamble pay off? The American Lawyer recently obtained the confidential 211-page partners’ prospectus for the merger. The tome reveals in intimate detail the potential payoffs from the deal (the firms are blending blue-chip clients and slashing their rent bills), as well as many of the remaining hurdles (notably disparate partner profitability) that the firm will have to overcome.

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