At the time that SJ Berwin combined with King & Wood Mallesons there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The firm had eyed a global merger for years, KWM was a much-fêted Asia-Pacific giant with a commanding position in China’s fast-growing legal market and the deal was in general welcomed by its partnership (in contrast to the smoke and mirrors surrounding the abortive discussions with Proskauer Rose). And yet, as we report this month, the firm has suffered a challenging few years since the deal went live, marked by significant departures.
Part of the problem is the inevitable consequence of the legacy UK firm’s reputation in private equity and funds, areas under siege from US law firms. That is a known quantity and the firm has been proactive in addressing that challenge.