Legal Business

KWM becomes Rogers & Wells II but with less staying power

A fêted global giant acquires a punchy mid-tier player to provide coverage in a key global region. Hopes are high. Yet just a few years later the combined firm is plagued by culture clashes, an identity crisis and damaging departures. Buyer’s remorse sets in and the ‘acquired’ firm longs for freedom or even just the good old days.

As we report this month in our cover feature on King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), the painful reality is that SJ Berwin has become, for the global legal market, the modern equivalent of Rogers & Wells, the troubled US acquisition that halted Clifford Chance (CC)’s once unstoppable momentum.