Partners in Dallas-based Hughes & Luce and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis of New York voted Monday to combine the two firms as of Jan. 1, 2008, creating a 1,539-lawyer firm in 23 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Edward O. Coultas, managing partner of the 149-lawyer Hughes & Luce, says his firm’s partners voted nearly unanimously in favor of the deal. Peter Kalis, chairman and managing partner of the 1,390-lawyer K&L Gates, says all 313 equity partners in the firm voted in favor of the deal. Coultas and Kalis each characterize the deal as a combination, and not an acquisition.

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