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Jones Day has announced a merger with 150-lawyer London firm Gouldens, effective Feb. 8. The second-largest acquisition of a British firm by a U.S. firm to date, Jones Day’s move will give it a London office of more than 200 lawyers. The firm will initially operate in London under the name Jones Day Gouldens. In a written statement issued Friday, Stephen J. Brogan, Jones Day’s managing partner, hailed the merger as a boost to the firm’s expansion in Europe, and called Gouldens “an established and successful London law firm that shares our vision and values.” Russell L. Carmedy, Goulden’s current joint managing partner, will become the combined firm’s partner-in-charge in London. In Friday’s statement, Carmedy also praised the combination. “This is an excellent merger for both firms,” he said. “Client needs are increasingly international. The merger significantly enhances Jones Day’s ability to meet those client needs.” Gouldens is a respected mid-market firm in the United Kingdom, said Alan Hodgart, a London-based consultant with Hildebrandt International. The firm’s core corporate practices handle smaller deals for large multinationals and larger deals for smaller clients, he said. “It’s a very good fit for Jones Day,” said Hodgart, noting that the American firm, which will now count more than 2,000 lawyers worldwide, also largely handles mid-market mergers-and-acquisition work. “There’s a lot of overlap in their practices,” he said. Both firms are also regarded as highly aggressive and profit-driven, Hodgart noted, which should ensure a good cultural fit. He said Gouldens had profits-per-partner last year of about $1 million. Jones Day had profits per partner of $815,000 in 2001, according to the most recent Am Law 100 survey by The American Lawyer magazine, a law.com and New York Law Journal affiliate. Hodgart said Gouldens was among the law firms included in London’s “Golden Circle,” a handful of prominent midsize but highly profitable firms with strong corporate practices. The more well-known “Magic Circle” is made up of larger firms there. One of the Magic Circle, Clifford Chance, carried out what is still the largest transatlantic combination with its 2000 acquisition of New York’s Rogers & Wells. In January 2002, Chicago’s Mayer, Brown & Platt merged with London’s 270-lawyer Rowe & Maw and became Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. Rowe & Maw occupied a similar position in the marketplace, though it was less profitable than Gouldens. The merger with Jones Day, with its largest office in Cleveland, suggests a continuation of a trend in which midsize British firms have chosen to merge with large American firms, particularly those from outside of New York. The efforts of larger British firms to secure combinations with major New York firms have largely met with little interest, though the British legal press has reported that New York’s Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson is in merger talks with London’s Ashurst Morris Crisp. Smaller British firms have a lot more eager stateside suitors from big firms in Chicago and California, however, and Hodgart said the embarrassment of riches has led many British firms to take a slow approach in sifting through various options.

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