Legal Business Blogs

Back in the USA: BLP looks stateside again as merger talks with Bryan Cave confirmed

Nineteen months to the day since its last attempt to forge a transatlantic union with Greenberg Traurig was abandoned, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has today (16 October) confirmed that it is in merger talks with Global 100 firm Bryan Cave.

Subject to a partnership vote later this year, the tie-up would create a firm comprising 1,500 lawyers spread across 32 offices in 12 countries, including St Louis-headquartered Bryan Cave’s 19 US outposts and with a combined revenue of around $975m.

In a statement, BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew said that the two firms ‘share a strong commitment to innovation in the interest of our clients’ and had ‘an unusually strong cultural fit’ as well as ‘the same ambitions for the future.’

Bryan Cave chair Therese Pritchard added: ‘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.’

Certainly the firms share similar partner profits, with BLP recording profits per equity partner (PEP) of £630,000 ($855,000) compared to Bryan Cave’s PEP of $866,000 for 2016.

A transatlantic merger had been on the cards for BLP, with the firm making a move to combine with Greenberg Traurig in early 2016. The merger, which would have created a 2,700 lawyer firm with revenues breaking £1bn, was ultimately called off with Mayhew subsequently stating there ‘wasn’t enough common ground’ between the two firms.

Foreshadowing the Bryan Cave deal, Mayhew told Legal Business in July that BLP would not attempt to build US law capacity under its own steam. The official line was the BLP was open to a US union without making it a core element of its strategy.

The firm has been in a mixed financial position of late, posting a 7% hike in revenue to £272m contrasting with an 8% fall in PEP in its 2016/17 financials.

For more on BLP’s strategy, read ‘Solid foundations but a struggle to build – Can BLP regain the confidence of its 2000s heyday?’