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Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis and North Carolina firm Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman are in merger talks, the firms announced Thursday. If the merger occurred, the combined firm would have 1,700 attorneys in 28 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. K&L Gates has 1,500 lawyers in 25 offices. Kennedy Covington has 175 attorneys in the Carolinas. The discussions between K&L Gates and Kennedy Covington began in late 2007 and have progressed continuously. If the talks proceed to a successful conclusion, it is anticipated that formal proposals will be presented to the respective partnerships in the summer. K&L Gates Chairman and Global Managing Partner Peter J. Kalis noted in a statement that Kennedy Covington is based in Charlotte, N.C., a leading financial center. “The Carolinas are integrated into the global economy and are a destination for major investments by foreign business enterprises,” he said. “With 30 Fortune 1000 companies, entrepreneurs, growth companies, and great research universities calling the Carolinas home, it is no wonder that the region is routinely ranked among the foremost business climates in the United States.” “Kennedy Covington is one of the nation’s preeminent regional law firms, making it a very attractive potential partner,” added Kalis. Gene C. Pridgen, managing partner of Kennedy Covington, said in a statement that a merger with Kirkpatrick Lockhart would give the firm a “global platform” necessary to address clients’ needs around the world � particularly as Charlotte begins to establish itself on the national and global market. “In K&L Gates, we believe that we have found a global firm that shares our commitment to our clients, to our communities and to our lawyers and staff,” Pridgen said. “We are enthusiastic as we move forward with our discussions.” The combined firm would have offices in Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Beijing; Berlin; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Harrisburg, Pa.; Hong Kong; London; Los Angeles; Miami; Newark, N.J.; New York; Orange County, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Paris; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; Shanghai; Spokane, Wash./Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Taipei, Taiwan; and Washington.

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