Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crouching Tiger About to Pounce

This week has seen some of our old law firm strategic thoughts on mergers and growth trends validated. Although we've been musing over the potential for this since our days in London over two years ago, we were recently quoted here ( as saying that "that the next large merger will not be "vertical" (NY-London), but "horizontal" (China-Australia), because of the synergies between these two countries and their respective economies".

In an article from The Lawyer entitled "Malaysia and Singapore's finest unite to form South East Asia powerhouse", it was announced that Malaysia’s largest law firm, Zaid Ibrahim and Co will form a strategic alliance with Allen & Gledhill, Singapore’s largest law firm from January 2008 onwards.

Although only a strategic alliance (and one that excludes an Australian presence just yet), we have thought since early this decade that the trend will hit soon as Asian law firms realise the potential of their own regions and the power of their own brands - and hence pause to think about the consequences of jumping into an alliance with an existing US or UK mega-firm too quickly.

At a recent Janders Dean Mergers Advice mini-conference involving firms in both China and Australia, attendees discussed the synergies between the regions in relation to the future growth of various practices of law including energy and resources, infrastructure and construction, and IP/IT legal services. Discussion also surrounded the cultural aspects of potential strategic alliances and mergers, the staffing and secondment challenges, the threat of the existing UK/US mega firms entering the market place, and a friendly wager on the gold medal count at the upcoming Olympic Games.

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