Positive early signs at combined firm King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has enjoyed a successful first six months as a single firm, according to Handel Lee, head of the firm’s East China offices, who added that Africa could be the next destination for the firm en route to London and New York.

The firm, which went live in March, topped mergermarket’s Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) M&A league tables for volume for the first half of 2012, placing it ahead of Baker & McKenzie, Freehills and Clifford Chance in the table. The firm did 35 deals worth a total of $9.2bn.

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Growth in LB100 regional peer groups half that of London

The capital has extended its position as the most buoyant legal market in the UK, with midsize London law firms continuing to outpace their regional rivals, notching up an average 10% increase in organic revenue this year compared to just a 5.5% revenue rise for non-London firms.

The South, North and Scottish regions are among the worst performing markets for LB100 firms this year, with firms in those regions increasing revenue on average by just 1%, 5% and 5% respectively.

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Creditors draw battle lines over Dewey & LeBoeuf assets

An intense and long-running battle is set to begin over the assets of Dewey & LeBoeuf which, as many observers had long predicted, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on 28 May.

The filing sets the stage for a struggle between creditors that experts predict could run for years in a process that one observer likened to ‘bear-baiting’.

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Magic Circle sees revenues up after muted financial year

Turnover at Magic Circle firms rose by a modest 2.6% this year, with the UK’s five Global Elite firms pulling in over £5.2bn of fees and £4.2bn worth of profit in the 2011/12 financial year.

As the UK’s financial reporting season kicks off, Allen & Overy emerges as one of the top performers after another strong year that saw turnover climb by 5% to reach £1.18bn, up from £1.12bn in 2010/11. The firm is one of the best performing in the group over the past five years, growing revenues by an average of 3% each year since 2008. Much of that can be attributed to the firm’s network in emerging markets, with around 15% of A&O’s lawyers now based in Asia.

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Ashurst pushes ahead with Beijing and Seoul launches

Ashurst is preparing to move into Seoul and is applying for a licence to practise in Beijing, as the firm looks to leverage off its recent tie-up with Australian firm Blake Dawson to bulk up in Asia.

Geoffrey Green, managing partner of Ashurst Asia, said it was vital to grow the firm’s Asian presence. ‘Ashurst has been relatively lightly represented in Asia. Compared to our competitors we are pretty underweight in Asia and given the fact the world is moving further east, that’s where the growth opportunities are,’ he said.

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Shakespeares and Harvey Ingram announce merger

Acquisitive Birmingham firm Shakespeares has continued its explosive growth of the last few years by announcing that it is set to combine with Leicester-based stalwart Harvey Ingram on 1 August 2012.

At press time both firms were expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a union in a partners’ ballot at each firm at the end of June, according to Shakespeares’ commercial director Hamish Munro.

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Scottish fire sale continues as DWF snaps up Biggart Baillie

Merger fever continues to grip the Scottish legal market after veteran firm Biggart Baillie announced in June that it would be joining forces with ambitious Major UK firm DWF on 1 July.

The merger between Biggart Baillie, a Scottish blueblood which can trace its origins back to 1894, and LB’s 2011 National/Regional firm of the Year DWF, is the fifth Anglo-Scottish union since the start of the year. It follows a joint venture between DAC Beachcroft and Andersons, which was announced in March; the acquisition of niche Scottish practice Anderson Fyfe by TLT, which takes effect in July; the announcement in June that Shoosmiths would acquire Archibald Campbell & Harley; and the high-profile merger of Pinsent Masons and McGrigors, which went live on 1 May.

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NHSLA looks to control growing legal spend in panel review

Newly appointed NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) chief executive Catherine Dixon’s priority will be getting value for money and using law firms to engage with NHS trusts as she prepares for a legal panel review later this year.

Dixon joined the NHSLA in April from the NSPCC where she was general counsel and company secretary. She was previously head of legal at Bupa and in private practice at Eversheds. She replaces outgoing NHSLA chief executive Steve Walker.

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FSA scrutiny increases financial service practitioners’ workload

Financial regulation partners are now in even higher demand as financial institution clients panic after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently fined former J.P. Morgan Cazenove banker Ian Hannam £450,000 for market abuse.

The financial watchdog issued the fine against Hannam after he allegedly shared financial information ahead of a deal, violating the so-called ‘wall-crossing’ rule.

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