Trailblazers – what next for post-merger King & Wood Mallesons?
July 2013. In a meeting room in King & Wood Mallesons' Hong Kong office, a group of journalists wait for an announcement about the firm's pending merger with UK outfit SJ Berwin. The press invitation had been sent out a day before voting closed – a sign the firms were confident about winning partner approval for the union. Cheering and clapping from a room next door confirms the tie-up will go ahead; office staff having just been informed. At the press conference, management finally announces the details, with all of the partners visibly excited – not to mention relieved – after months of deliberation. Today, four months after the merger went live on 1 November 2013, the new entity – not so catchily named King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) SJ Berwin in the UK and Europe for the time being and KWM elsewhere – is very much a reality. SJ Berwin lawyers have moved into the China/Australian firm's offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, London-based KWM teams have switched to legacy SJ Berwin's City headquarters, global practice coordinators have been appointed in nine core areas and management bodies with representatives from China, London and Australia have already started meeting regularly.
With any major merger, integration is always the key test. But with its divergent cultures and language differences, this has never been more true than at King & Wood Mallesons. Elizabeth Broomhall and Pui-Guan Man look at the challenges on the horizon for the newest global law firm
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