Christopher Carroll of Carroll McNulty Kull, left, and Nick Thomas of Kennedys.
Christopher Carroll of Carroll McNulty Kull, left, and Nick Thomas of Kennedys. ()

New Jersey-based Carroll, McNulty & Kull is merging with U.K.-founded international insurance law firm Kennedys, leaders of both firms announced Thursday.

The merger, effective June 1, creates a 32-office firm with nearly 1,100 lawyers across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, including CMK’s five locations in the U.S. The merged entity will be known as Kennedys CMK in the U.S., and Kennedys abroad.

Chris Carroll, a co-founder of CMK, is set to join Kennedys’ global strategy board. CMK co-founders Joseph McNulty and Gary Kull are also joining Kennedys CMK, along with managing partner Margaret Catalano.

While CMK brings about 100 lawyers, including 43 partners, to the merger, Kennedys has more than 975 lawyers and 750 staff. In addition to its international presence, Kennedys adds a Miami office to CMK’s U.S. locations.

Kennedys has been expanding fast. The firm opened its Mexico office earlier this year, and opened in Chile and Colombia in August. Also this year, Kennedys launched a formal association with Studio Legale Rinaldi Associati, an Italian firm.

“They’re virtually everywhere now,” Carroll said in an interview Thursday.

The firms share insurance as their core business. They have worked together on a number of complex, drawn-out insurance cases over about 15 years, Carroll said, and formed a “deep” relationship.

Carroll said Kennedys approached his firm about a potential merger a few years ago. But CMK was in its own growth mode, having just opened its offices in Philadelphia and Chicago, Carroll said, so it was not interested at the time. The merger talks resumed about six months ago, he said, and the deal came together quickly.

Geographically, CMK provides the combined firm a national reach in the U.S., while Kennedys offers a global presence. On a personal level, Carroll said, the firms had worked closely together and their cultures meshed well.

“These folks were us and we were them,” Carroll said.

In a statement, Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas called the merger “a meeting of the minds.”

“We know each other well, as colleagues and friends, and are confident that our cultures will integrate to the benefit of all,” Thomas said. “Clients will see immediate benefits from working with a global firm and they have been overwhelmingly positive in their support of this merger.”

CMK focuses on coverage and defense, but like Kennedys, it has also ventured into other sectors, including construction, real estate and health care.

CMK, founded in 1997, has offices in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas. Kennedys has outposts in Auckland, Belfast, Birmingham, Bogotá, Brussels, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Manchester, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow, Santiago, São Paulo, Sheffield, Singapore, Sydney and Taunton, in addition to 15 more associate offices and co-operations across the globe.

Carroll said the combined firm will likely continue to expand in the near future.

“I would anticipate you’ll see more office openings throughout the United States,” he said. “It’s not going to be willy-nilly. It’s going to be strategic where it makes its sense for our clients.”

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