Allen & Overy partners are converging on Miami for their partnership conference, with attendees expecting the Magic Circle firm’s ongoing hunt for a U.S. merger partner to feature heavily on the agenda.
Specific details of the talks between both firms have remained contained to a “very small circle,” said one unnamed partner familiar with the matter. But partners headed to South Florida this week are primed to hear about recent developments.
“I’m interested to hear what they tell us,“ one anonymous Allen & Overy partner said. “This is a good business with clever people, so I expect to be told something of merit. I want to hear about what the plan is for the whole of the States.”
Historically, the firm’s partnership conference has served as a platform for Allen & Overy to set forth its U.S. strategy, with the last meeting devoting “a half day entirely on it,“ according to one partner from the firm.
In a 2013 feature story by The American Lawyer about the struggles that some of London’s leading firms have had in breaking into the U.S. market, two former Allen & Overy partners said that the firm had lost a staggering $250 million on its U.S. operations over two decades.
“At the conference two years ago there was a specific section just on the U.S. strategy,“ said one former Allen & Overy partner. “And that was when there were no rumors, so in the circumstances I’d expect it to be a major topic of conversation this week.”
While some new information is expected to be shared with partners, Allen Overy’s management will not be presenting any formal proposals, such as a merger vote, to the partnership.
Allen & Overy partners are also expected to receive a progress update on the changes that the firm made to its governance structure and client focus last year, when it introduced a new executive committee and a new client group accountable for sector growth.
“I expect there to be a lot of talk about client successes following the governance changes, and continuing to drive the business forward through that,” said one unnamed Allen & Overy partner.
The conference in Miami is also expected to address Allen & Overy’s technology objectives, after the second batch of technology startups moved into the firm’s Fuse innovation hub in London earlier this year.
“We talked a lot at the last conference about it,“ said one Allen & Overy partner in London. “We all want to hear about how the firm will focus on disruptive technology that could change the ways of working and how that will look in the next 20 years.”
The conference comes at the midway point of senior partner Wim Dejonghe and managing partner Andrew Ballheimer’s terms. After being appointed two years ago, the pair set out publicly their intention to build up Allen & Overy’s “core area expertise” in the United States.