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Germany and east Asia next targets as Gowling WLG merger made official

As the combination between Wragge Lawrence Graham and Gowling Lafleur Henderson to create a £400m practice has gone live today (22 February) the firm already wants to deliver a new tie-up by 2018, and is targeting Germany and east Asia.

Albeit one month later than expected, the 622-partner law firm now called Gowling WLG boasts 18 cities across Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, but there are already plans for more growth.

Gowling WLG head of international projects Quentin Poole (pictured), said the firms took their time after the New Year to ensure everything was in the right place, with T’s crossed and I’s dotted for the over 1,400 head Gowling WLG venture.

Poole said: ‘You can imagine with a project like this you don’t know how long various things are going to take. There are a whole range of things that just need managing and coordinating around integration of systems.

Beyond integrating the offices, the firm has its sights set on further expansion. Poole said partners at both firms are on the same page, with a joint strategy memorandum sent out before the vote on the combination took place. That plan includes that the firm will deliver a new tie-up by 2018.

‘We will be looking for combination firms. Strategically our priorities would be Germany and east Asia, so we’re proactively working on that. There are one or two other places where we’d be opportunistic, so if a really good firm in one of the other jurisdictions we would go for it, but the main focus for us at the moment is Germany and east Asia.’

A six-member international board has been formed comprising three members from each of the legacy firms. From the UK chief executive David Fennell, strategic development director Jenny Hardy and chairman Andrew Witts have places, while from the Canadian side chief executive Peter Lukasiewicz, partner Scott Joliffe and managing partner James Buchan all have roles.

Lukasiewicz believes their joint experiences together will make them strong players in the international market.

‘Our vision is for Gowling WLG to be one of the top sector-focused law firms in the world – and we plan on adding like-minded firms to our combination in the near future in order to grow and enhance our practice in the sectors, services and geographic regions where our clients need us to be.’ 

Read our cover feature on the merger in: The road to Ottawa – why WLG believes Gowlings can put it on the global map