Legal Business

Shearman and Hogan Lovells – better the devil you don’t

This comment piece has been updated to reflect an announcement late on Thursday (2 March) that merger talks between Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells have been called off. In a joint statement, the firms said: ‘As has been widely reported, our firms have been in preliminary and exploratory conversations regarding a possible combination. After careful consideration, we have mutually agreed that a combination at this time is not in the best interest of either firm. We have been deeply impressed with each other’s business, practices and people and wish each other continued success.’

It’s funny how the market gets about law firm mergers. Ringing around various senior lawyers for a hot take on what they thought of a Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells tie-up, most were pretty scathing.

‘A merger of losers’ and ‘a combination of mediocre and mediocre’ were just two pejorative remarks being flung around the Square Mile. Few were kind. Now that the dust has settled on the idea, and I hold my hand up to playing devil’s advocate on this one, these initial reactions strike me as a little churlish.