Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave enter merger talks

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave have entered into preliminary merger negotiations.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: “Our two firms share a strong commitment to innovation in the interests of our clients. We also have an unusually strong cultural fit with a mutual focus on collaboration across our businesses in the interests of deep and lasting client relationships. It is encouraging for the potential firm that BLP and Bryan Cave both have this complementary heritage, but crucially also share the same ambitions for the future.”

Bryan Cave chair Therese Pritchard said: “If we combine we will operate without regard to geographic boundaries. Our firm would be one of only a handful of global firms operating in a one-firm structure with more than 500 lawyers in both the US and also internationally. We will seamlessly provide counsel to clients across the globe, deliver client service at a new level and use technology and innovation to redefine efficiency in the practice of law.”

A merger would create a firm of around 582 partners and $989.5m (£744m) in annual turnover, and would gift BLP with an additional 13 partners in London. The firm would have 32 offices in 12 countries and a platform of 1,200 lawyers.

In the latest UK 200 report, Berwin Leighton Paisner’s figures showed a 7 per cent rise from £254m to £272m in 2016/17, but the firm also saw its average profit per equity partner (PEP) fall by almost 8 per cent to £630,000. BLP did not provide net profit but The Lawyer estimated this at £50.4m, based on 80 full equity partners on an average of £630,000.

Meanwhile, Bryan Cave’s LLPs for the 2016 period show a 32 per cent increase in revenue from €4.8m to €6.4m, generated by an average of nine equity partners, up from seven in 2015.

BLP’s global RPL stood at $561,000 compared to Bryan Cave’s $699,000, The Lawyer’s Global 200 report shows. Revenue per partner stood at $1.6m (£1.2m) and $1.9m (£1.4m) respectively.

The firm’s merged revenue would put it below King & Spalding ($1.06bn) and above Squire Patton Boggs ($983.1m) at number 35 in the Global 200.

Both firm’s practice mix is interesting: real estate is BLP’s largest practice area with 68 partners, followed by corporate (37) and litigation (27). These are also the three most important practice areas at Bryan Cave, although the order is different: litigation with 122 partners, followed by corporate with 86 and real estate with 48.

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