The new firm, Womble Bond Dickinson, will launch on 1 October 2017. More than 420 partners and 1,000 lawyers will work across its eight UK offices, and 15 US offices, including London, Newcastle and Bristol, and Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte.
At a partner vote at Bond Dickinson held earlier this week, over 75% of partners voted for the tie-up. At Womble Carlyle, the threshold was slightly lower, with the firm needing two thirds of those partners eligible to vote to back the combination.
The new combined entity, which will be structured as a company limited by guarantee, will not financially integrate the two firms, although will be a shared ‘pot’ for any integration costs incurred as well as a possibility of a future shared pot to reward collaboration and team work.
While each firm will continue to operate as a separate and autonomous partnership with independent US and UK management, the combined entity will be led by a new transatlantic eight member board of four partners from each firm.
Bond Dickinson partners Simon Watts, Nick Barwood and Paula Dillion, alongside US partners Jeff Hay, Christopher Bolan and David Hamilton, will be appointed to the board.
Betty Temple, Womble Carlyle’s chair and chief executive, and Jonathan Blair, Bond Dickinson’s managing partner, will co-chair the board.
Both firms have been working together in an exclusive strategic alliance for almost a year. Temple, however, told Legal Business, that the relationship had progressed rapidly over the last six months.
‘Since we launched the strategic alliance we have been really impressed by the breadth and depth of the collaboration between our firms particularly in relating to the client service, business development and knowledge management.
‘While it has been established for nearly a year, in the last six months it has rapidly progressed to a point where we just believe we can do more combined, even more for our clients’, Temple said.
Temple highlighted Carlyle’s ‘great working relationship with Bond Dickinson’, adding: ‘we have such incredible culture and quality similarities and that is just one of those synergies you can’t make up.’
Blair said that ‘the agreement creating Womble Bond Dickinson marks the achievement and culmination of our vision to be a top 20 law firm by 2020.’
The ‘combined firm enables us to provide an enviable transatlantic platform for further expansion and growth in the UK, where London remains a priority for investment along with Edinburgh and other regional areas important to US and UK clients,’ he added.
The combined mid-market firm will have twelve markets, including energy and natural resources, healthcare, insurance, real estate, retail and consumer and pharma and life sciences.