Legal Business

‘Credibility in both US and English law is non-negotiable’ – A&O Shearman readies for launch

As the latest edition of Legal Business went to press in late April, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling were working to a deadline of their own – the 1 May go-live date for their mega-merger.

The headline figures are undeniable – A&O Shearman will come into existence with 4,000 lawyers in 48 offices across 29 countries, as well as $3.5bn in revenue; enough to rocket it up to fourth place in the Global 100.

Legal Business

A&O high yield head retires ahead of Shearman tie-up as firm makes first combined partner promos

Prominent high-yield partner Kevin Muzilla has retired from Allen & Overy, in the latest departure from the practice ahead of next month’s A&O Shearman mega-merger.

Ranked in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame for London high-yield, Muzilla joined A&O from Milbank as a partner in 2009, and has since headed up the firm’s leveraged finance teams, first the US and then Europe.

He has been active in the European high yield market since its inception, and has been involved in many market-defining deals, including advising the
underwriters on what was the largest Russian LBO financing in history
– the acquisition of Russian transportation group FESCO, which won the Legal Business Finance Team of the Year award in 2014.

His departure follows that of Marwa Elborai, also a Legal 500 high-yield leading individual, who left for Kirkland & Ellis last month after joining from Shearman in late 2022, while fellow high yield grandee Ward McKimm recently confirmed he would be retiring from Shearman ahead of the 1 May combination with A&O.

Another high yield specialist partner, Jeanette Cruz, also left A&O last August, according to filings on Companies House.

A&O said in a statement: ‘We would like to thank Kevin for the contribution that he has made during his time at A&O and wish him all the best for the future.’

A&O’s London high-yield bench is by no means totally depleted. Prominent partners remaining include US-qualified John Kicken, who joined in 2014 from Cravath, and Brad Weyland, who came in as a partner in 2021 from Latham & Watkins, where he was a counsel.

The magic circle firm is currently gearing up for the completion of its combination with Shearman; a deal which is of driven in large part by complementary finance expertise at both firms. Shearman’s London office includes Legal 500 high-yield leading individual Trevor Ingram and next generation partner Gordon Houseman, who made partner at the US firm in 2015 and 2021 respectively.

Elborai’s departure to Kirkland was followed last week by the news that A&O debt finance partner Vanessa Xu, who was made up in 2017, would also be joining the US firm’s London office.

However, these departures are to be offset by the first combined round of partner promotions at A&O Shearman, with 40 new partners announced in a joint press release issued today (8 April).

Of these, 32 come from A&O and eight from Shearman. This balance was ‘consistent with the relative size of the two firms and their geographic footprints’, the press release said, with A&O’s 80% share in line with its 78% share of the merged firm’s total headcount, according to data from last year’s Global 100. Last year A&O promoted 36 partners with 12 in the UK, while Shearman promoted ten, with one in the UK.

All nine of the new London partners came from A&O, with three each in banking and corporate. Thirteen have been made up to partner in the US, including five from A&O and eight from Shearman. The total also included 13 new partners in continental Europe, four in Asia, and one in the Middle East, all of which were from A&O.

Banking was the biggest overall practice area with ten promotions all from A&O. Corporate was in second with nine, including eight A&O corporate partners and one Shearman M&A partner. The new partners also included six in litigation, five in international capital markets and four in tax.

Full list of partner promotions:

Allen & Overy

New York
Lena Kiely, International Capital Markets
Puja Patel, Corporate
Derek Poon, International Capital Markets

Washington DC
Michael Sykes, Banking
Gideon Wiginton, Banking

Tim Bates, International Capital Markets
Imogen Carr, Corporate
Vanessa Morgan, Management
Rebecca Noble, Banking
Rachel O’Reilly, Banking
Kate Pumfrey, Litigation
Alex Shandro, Corporate
Jason Symington, Banking
David Weaver, Corporate

Axel de Backer, Banking

Luke Whibley, Banking

Laurie-Anne Ancenys, Corporate
Charles del Valle, Tax
Anne-Caroline Payelle, Corporate

Catharina Glugla, Corporate

Rauni Ahammer, Banking

Tim Drach, Tax
David Schmid, Litigation
Sebastian Schulz, Litigation

Baptiste Aubry, International Capital Markets
Franz Kerger, Tax
Madrid, Spain
Ishtar Sancho, Tax

Arash Koozehkanani, Litigation

Mohammad Andrew, International Capital Markets

Matthew Del Rosso, Banking
Jessica Lee, Banking
Ayesha Thapar, Corporate

Shearman & Sterling

New York
Melisa Brower, Compensation, Governance and ERISA
Jonathan Cheng, Antitrust
Joshua Ebersole, Litigation
Jai Garg, Compensation, Governance and ERISA
Christopher Glenn, Mergers & Acquisitions
Leila Siddiky, Litigation

Washington DC
Brian Hauser, Antitrust

Michelle Kwan, Emerging Growth

The promotions are broadly balanced along gender lines, with 23 men (57%) and 17 women made up.

Legal Business

London partners overlooked as A&O Shearman reveals post-merger leadership

Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling today announced (1 March) the names of the key leadership term that will head A&O Shearman once the $3.5bn merger completes on 1 May – with no UK-based partners making the line-up.

A&O’s current interim global managing partner and Middle East and Turkey regional managing partner Khalid Garousha has been elected senior partner of the combined firm. The managing partner role, meanwhile, has gone to current Paris managing partner Hervé Ekué.

Two roles were also announced for Shearman leaders: current senior partner Adam Hakki will become co-chair of A&O Shearman’s board and executive committee and chair of the firm’s US business, while current global managing partner Doreen Lilienfeld will serve as co-managing partner of the merged firm’s US business.

It is unclear what these appointments mean for A&O’s current US co-chairs Kent Rowey and Karen Seward. The New York duo, a projects partner and an employment partner respectively, took over from outgoing chair Tim House less than a year ago, on 1 May 2023.

‘I am honoured that the partnership has put its trust in me to lead A&O Shearman as its first senior partner’, said Garousha in a statement. ‘Working closely with Hervé, Adam, Doreen, and other senior leadership, as A&O Shearman we will take forward our combined expertise and deep legal knowledge to achieve unparalleled outcomes for our clients on their increasingly complex legal and commercial challenges, wherever they and we operate in the world.’

Hakki was similarly effusive: ‘I am honoured and excited to be taking on these senior leadership roles for A&O Shearman. I am very much looking forward to working closely with our soon-to-be new partners and leadership team to deliver on our shared vision for an unparalleled global elite firm, centered on providing the highest level of service to clients in their most important matters worldwide. I am also pleased that these leadership roles have been designed to allow me to both serve the firm as a leader and actively represent clients in their most significant matters.’

The statement also says that: ‘Additional senior and other leadership appointments for the new firm will be drawn from both firms and announced in due course.’

The announcements of Hakki and Lilienfeld’s roles close the open questions about how much leadership authority would go to Shearman, often viewed as the junior partner in the merger, with $906.9m in revenue in last year’s Global 100 compared to A&O’s $2.57bn.

Garousha’s election can be seen as a vote for continuity. Outgoing senior partner Wim Dejonghe is set to come to the end of his second and final term on 30 April. Some in the market argued that managing partner Gareth Price, eligible to serve another term after first winning election in 2020, would stand for reelection this year as a continuity candidate. But Price resigned for personal reasons last July. Garousha then stepped into his role on an interim basis.

Garousha’s victory may come as a surprise to many in the London market. This is not due to a lack of status: partners at other firms with knowledge of A&O have described him variously as ‘incredibly well respected’, ‘uniquely talented’, and ‘a class act’. His loyalty to and knowledge of A&O were also well-regarded: he joined the firm from CMS in 2000 and made partner in 2004.

However, few viewed him as a figure with firmwide leadership ambitions. Indeed, some speculated that this perception made Garousha a good choice for interim managing partner with the role due to be contested soon, and reacted with surprise when his name was announced among the senior partner candidates.

Moreover, Abu Dhabi-based Garousha was the only candidate for the role not based in London. He beat both global projects, energy, natural resources and infrastructure board head David Lee and private capital group co-chair and global banking practice co-head Philip Bowden to step into Dejonghe’s shoes. Bowden also ran for senior partner in 2020 – and lost narrowly to then-first-term incumbent Dejonghe. Some have also argued that, as a capital markets partner, Garousha’s practice is further from the core of A&O’s identity than Bowden and Lee’s focuses on banking and finance.

Of course, part of the merger integration process will inevitably involve changing A&O’s identity. Few doubt that finance remains at the core of what the merged firm will try to achieve in its new transatlantic form. But if A&O was seeking to break market perceptions of it as a UK firm, a Magic Circle standard bearer, and reorientate it with the ‘global elite’ status that it and its peers aspire to, naming a new leadership team based entirely outside of London would be one way to do it.

Ekué, meanwhile, is another near-lifer, at A&O in Paris since 2001 with just one year at Clifford Chance before that. He won the role after defeating London advanced legal services delivery head Angela Clist, Hong Kong managing partner Vicki Liu, New York global international capital markets group head David Lucking, and Brussels global corporate practice co-head Dirk Meeus.

There is more continuity on the Shearman side. Hakki only took over from David Beveridge as senior partner a little less than a year ago, after Shearman’s prospective combination with Hogan Lovells fell apart in early March. But he was crucial in coordinating with Dejonghe to get the A&O merger done – a process that took place over a period of mere months before a public announcement last May that reportedly came as a surprise to not just the legal press but partners at both firms.

Last word in the announcement went to Dejonghe. ‘A&O Shearman will bring together some of the greatest legal talent in the world while maintaining a focus on clients, our people and wider society’, he said. ‘I’m delighted to pass the leadership baton to Khalid, Hervé, Adam and Doreen on May 1, and I wish them all every success in their new roles at A&O Shearman.’

Legal Business

It’s a ‘yes’ from them – A&O and Shearman partners vote through landmark $3.5bn transatlantic deal

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling are set to go ahead with their transatlantic merger, after partners at both firms voted overwhelmingly in favour of the union, with support from more than 99% of votes cast at each firm.

The pair is expected to combine as A&O Shearman from May 2024 at the latest – creating ‘the first fully integrated global elite law firm’, with nearly 4,000 lawyers across 48 offices and 29 countries.

With combined revenue of roughly $3.5bn, the merged firm will sit comfortably within the top five of the LB global 100 – behind Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins and DLA Piper.

Partner voting on the combination kicked off on 28 September, and was scheduled to run until 13 October, with the firms needing to secure the approval of 75% of partners to get the deal over the line.

Announcing the move, A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) said: ‘This is a historic moment for both firms and our profession. We are delighted that our partners have voted so resoundingly in favour of this merger, which is a transformational step for the legal industry. We have long admired Shearman & Sterling for its outstanding reputation, talent, and client base, and we are confident that together we will create a truly exceptional global firm that will serve our clients’ needs in an increasingly complex and dynamic world.’

Shearman senior partner Adam Hakki added: ‘Our partners have recognized and welcomed this unparalleled opportunity to combine our individual market leadership and brands to serve clients as an integrated global law firm, preeminent in all our markets. A&O Shearman will be a firm unlike any other in the world, built to achieve exceptional outcomes for our clients through an intentional focus on quality, excellence, and collaboration. We are creating a new industry leader, with truly global capabilities, and we are excited for what is to come.’

The firms announced they were in merger discussions in May this year and the deal had been widely expected to go ahead, with management at both firms embarking on a series of roadshows around the world over the summer to shore up support.

The combination marks the first transatlantic merger involving a Magic Circle firm since Clifford Chance’s ill-fated union with Rogers & Wells in 2000 and comes after A&O held unsuccessful talks with O’Melveny & Myers in 2019.

Shearman, meanwhile, was engaged in talks with Hogan Lovells as recently as this year, with the pair announcing the end of discussions in March. The firm has struggled to keep pace with New York rivals in recent years. With its traditional banking client-base, it has not made the same push into private equity as its rivals, something management at the combined firm is keen to rectify.

Shearman has also been hit by partner exits around the world, including finance partners Philip Stopford and Korey Fevzi, who left in March this year to launch the English-law offering at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in London. The firm named respected litigator Adam Hakki as the senior partner successor to David Beveridge the same month.

Market reaction to the deal has been largely positive. Jomati founder Tony Williams, who was previously managing partner at CC before its US merger, commented: ‘A&O was lucky. The previous discussions with O’Melveny made partners understand how difficult getting a US deal is. The partners were more amenable to compromise on issues that, if not for that experience, might have been sticking points.’

Another commentator noted: ‘It’s been handled extremely well. Both firms have had failed merger attempts recently. Both sides understood the importance of managing communications – even simple things like who gets informed in what order. Communications strategy is crucial and has been really well handled. The whole thing was presented as a proper corporate deal.’

The deal will heap pressure on the remaining magic circle firms to come up with credible offerings of their own in the US. There has not been a significant UK/US merger since 2018, when BCLP was created. This deal came after Eversheds Sutherland was formed in 2017, while Norton Rose Fulbright happened in 2013 and Hogan Lovells in 2010.

As Williams commented: ‘It’s transformative in one key respect: it is a fundamental shift in what the top UK firms have been able to achieve in the United States.’

‘You’ve now got one more 64,000lb gorilla, with a unique capability that doesn’t really exist elsewhere’ adds a former UK firm head. ‘A&O Shearman now has a capability that the other Magic Circle firms don’t have. These things don’t change overnight – no one will be out of business all of a sudden. But over time, over around 10 years, it could be transformative. It’s like a snowball. It gathers momentum. It’s really a challenge for the [rest of the] Magic Circle.’

Maurice Allen, founder of legal consultancy LTN & Partners, argued that in addition to the direct benefits from the merger itself, the merged firm will also be a more attractive proposition for other lawyers, potentially making it easier to further build on the corporate side: ‘It’s a big leg up for clients and for recruitment. There’s no doubt A&O is more attractive now.

‘For people sitting in London, either at a US firm where they’re not enjoying life, or at a UK firm where they feel they aren’t reacting to the challenge of the US firms, A&O Shearman starts to look very attractive.’

Legal Business

A&O Shearman merger vote to kick off this month as pensions issues overcome

Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling today (18 September) announced that their respective partnerships will start voting on their proposed merger on 28 September, with the voting window to close on 13 October and results announced soon after. For the merger to be voted through, 75% of the partnerships will have to vote in favour of the deal.

‘Over the past few months, partners and teams from both firms have been meeting and building relationships, and the excitement about the opportunities for the merged firm is palpable’, said A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) in a statement.

‘We have made significant progress since announcing the combination, and our clients have expressed enthusiasm for the combination and for what A&O Shearman will be able to deliver’, agreed Shearman senior partner Adam Hakki. ‘Our partners and colleagues are very much supportive and eager to launch the combined firm.’

Over the summer, Dejonghe and Hakki made several ‘roadshow’ trips to many of the two firms’ offices around the world to field questions from partners and to bolster support for the combination.

Now, the two firms also report ‘the successful completion of a number of key transaction milestones’, including financial and operational due diligence and ‘the filing of requests for antitrust clearances’. Crucially, the statement also confirms ‘the completion of approval for all required modifications to retirement and pension programs.’

Many in the market saw Shearman’s pension liabilities as the biggest potential sticking point for the merger, and they are widely considered to have been the issue that caused Hogan Lovells to walk away from its own mooted combination with Shearman in March.

Comments in September from Hogan Lovells’ chief executive Miguel Zaldivar did little to dispel this perception: ‘We are not interested in deals that come with significant pension obligations, debts, or firms that have experienced a drop in revenue, talent, or partners.’

A&O has continued a spate of hiring activity in the months since the merger was announced, in particular in the US, though it did see some losses in other regions. The firm also faced some disruption with the shock resignation in July of managing partner Gareth Price, ‘for personal reasons’, with Abu Dhabi capital markets partner Khalid Garousha named as interim managing partner two weeks later.

Shearman, meanwhile, has faced a steady trickle of partner departures, including in July the loss of five partners in one week across its London and Washington DC offices.

Few in the market view these departures as cause for concern, however, and most accept that some level of rationalisation is a natural part of a merger of this scale.

The two firms themselves remain optimistic. The official announcement notes that ‘all transaction milestones have been met thus far and support for the combination among clients, partners, and colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive worldwide.’

With the pension issue put to bed, this confidence may prove well-founded.

Legal Business

Departures from Shearman and Allen & Overy as merger is unveiled and energy dominates lateral hiring

Following the announcement of the proposed A&O Shearman merger, news came that Shearman & Sterling had lost two partners to Ashurst in London, which leads the headline moves – dominated by energy and infrastructure hires – in recent weeks.

London-based Shearman partners Sanja Udovicic and Julia Derrick moved over to Ashurst to expand the firm’s global energy team.

Legal Business

Getting its mojo back: How A&O Shearman could redefine the Magic Circle

The proposed merger of A&O and Shearman & Sterling has got the market talking about the biggest news in the legal industry for decades. LB finds commentators sanguine on the deal – but management will have much work garnering partner support this summer ahead of the vote.

‘Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling to create the first fully integrated global elite law firm,’ proclaims the 21 May joint statement from the two firms, stating their intent to merge to create Allen Overy Shearman Sterling. Thankfully, the branding gurus also came up with the far snappier (and not quite so ampersand-devoid) A&O Shearman, ‘for short’. The combined firm would boast 3,900 lawyers across 49 offices and roughly $3.4bn in combined revenues.

Legal Business

A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience – now to give the rainmakers the hard sell

Easily the most enjoyable part about analysing the proposed merger of Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling has been hearing the reactions of leaders at peer firms around the City on the video featuring senior partners Wim Dejonghe and Adam Hakki on the new A&O Shearman website.

Hot-take reactions from the c-suite around the Square Mile have been telling and often amusing. Says one US firm leader: ‘It’s clearly not a merger, is it? It’s a takeover of Shearman by A&O, isn’t it?’ That is a point echoed by many, and it certainly does feel like A&O’s Dejonghe is in the driving seat of what is undeniably a very slick pitch, even if it does at times look like Hakki is in a hostage situation with Stockholm Syndrome.

Indeed, the fact that the announcement is conveyed in the language of dealmaking is not lost on most, as another US leader remarks: ‘This has been presented to appeal to the partners of both firms because it looks like a proper M&A deal. It’s the same language – “subject to customary closing conditions,” and with a financial adviser and independent legal advisers. That has to be part of the strategy to win the voters over. They are all shareholders.’

Several sources have noted surprise that the deal was announced before the vote this summer, which would require 75% of the partners at both firms to get behind the deal. Clearly, there are dangers in assuming this is a fait accompli and it might be worth the firms lowering that high threshold if they haven’t already, as one London managing partner suspects they have.

That commentator also cynically points to the staggering amount of times Dejonghe and Hakki insist this transaction is all about the clients (you could play a dangerous drinking game for every time they mention ‘clients’) but let’s look at the real motivations behind this deal.

The numbers are compelling enough to make even the most hard-bitten sceptic concede that this merger must happen, for the sake of both firms. The tie-up would see 3,900 lawyers operating across 49 offices and generate around $3.4bn in combined revenues, putting A&O Shearman fourth in the current Global 100 table, between DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie.

However, revenue per lawyer would be $872,000 – less than RPL at A&O and Shearman separately ($1.1m and $1.4m respectively) and over $1m per lawyer less than both Kirkland and Latham and significantly less than many of what might be considered ‘global elite firms.’

But profits are aligned, with PEP at A&O $2.7m, while the average partner at Shearman is taking home around $3m. This means that full financial integration, the thorn in the side of many a law firm merger, will be much easier to pull off, especially as the firms have agreed on a compensation model that moves A&O further away from a pure lockstep, a process that has been in train for about a decade.

Indeed, A&O voted through reforms as recently as 2020 in a bid to increase rewards for star performers even as the assault from US competitors continued to take its toll on London’s big four international firms.

Many commentators point to the strong pedigrees both firms have in their home markets, and this is evident in the data. In the US, A&O Shearman has the potential to enjoy top-tier rankings in The Legal 500 for securities litigation and project finance, and second tier rankings in key areas such as antitrust, disputes, capital markets and tax. However, for M&A (large deals) the firm would only be ranked in the third tier, tier five for restructuring, and would not be ranked at all for private equity.

The UK rankings would be much stronger. Tier one rankings would abound in numerous areas within finance, as well as restructuring, TMT and energy, while tier two rankings would apply to commercial litigation, big-ticket M&A and tax. Crucially, A&O Shearman would also be in the chasing pack for private equity.

You have to hand it to Dejonghe for not allowing his US merger imperative to be thwarted by the whimpering end to the merger talks with O’Melveny & Myers in 2019. If anything, that experience will mean that a lot of the hard yards have already been done to prime the partnership for what, don’t forget, would be only the second US merger for a Magic Circle firm ever (if Clifford Chance’s disaster-strewn takeover of Rogers & Wells 20 years ago really counts).

While one London managing partner damns the combination with faint praise: ‘It would be wrong to write this off as a hopeless or desperate merger,’ they have a point. These two firms have come of age and grown stronger with the battle scars, not least those born by Shearman after its damaging failed merger talks with Hogan Lovells, which prompted a string of high-profile exits in recent months.

As we pointed out when the O’Melveny talks collapsed, the only transatlantic deal that the Magic Circle globalists were ever going to strike was with a firm in decline. Shearman is certainly that, which is the reason it has swallowed its pride to countenance this deal at all.

We have known for some time that, with the insidious creep of thrusting US firms in the City, the term Magic Circle was becoming obsolete. Now it can safely be said that A&O Shearman heralds the death knell of the Magic Circle. It’s extremely difficult to imagine how Clifford Chance, Freshfields or Linklaters can meaningfully respond to this, a deal which would place A&O on the trajectory to becoming the world’s top UK-based law firm.

While there is clearly much to be done in terms of financial due diligence and the ironing out of issues relating to Shearman’s pension liabilities, time will be of the essence. A long courtship never works, so Dejonghe and Hakki would be well advised to work quickly on getting buy-in from rainmakers and locking them in as soon as possible, while not dragging their feet on the vote. Once the stars are aligned, the rest will inevitably fall into place.

A merger of two historic brands does not create a market leader overnight, but it is heartening to see that Dejonghe and Hakki are addressing the problems posed by market forces with the only viable solution. Let’s hope it works this time around.

Legal Business

Breaking: Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling announce merger

In what the firms describe as ‘the first fully integrated global elite law firm’ Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling today (21 May) announced a planned merger to create a ‘unique global law firm’ named Allen Overy Shearman Sterling – A&O Shearman for short.

In a statement, the firms said: ‘This merger will combine two of the world’s most prestigious law firms, leaders in their respective markets, to create an integrated global elite firm.

‘Together A&O Shearman will have  3,900 lawyers and 800 Partners across 49 offices. Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling have 250 years of combined experience and some of the greatest legal talent in the world. A&O Shearman will be the only global firm with US law, English law, and local law capabilities in equal measure. This merger is driven by clients’ needs for a seamless global offering of the highest quality and depth to support them in navigating an increasingly complex legal, regulatory, and geopolitical environment.

‘Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling are complementary with distinct market leadership, and between them they have huge strength in the US, UK, and markets all across the globe. This merger will transform their offering to clients: Shearman & Sterling will gain access to a dramatically expanded ‘rest of the world’ offering across practice areas, and Allen & Overy will benefit from increased board-level recognition and expanded access to a corporate client base in the US. The combined firm will be perfectly positioned to capitalise on global macro trends including energy transition, technology, and private capital.’

Wim Dejonghe, senior partner at Allen & Overy, said: ‘This combination of two great firms is such an exciting step for us. Both firms have a history of excellence, and together we think A&O Shearman will be a firm unlike any other in the world. We have listened to our clients and their requests for the highest quality advice to help navigate the demands they face, and to do so in an integrated and globally consistent way. We, A&O Shearman, will do this by accelerating our ability to bring the best of both firms, regardless of geography.

‘Shearman & Sterling is an incredible group of legal minds; a firm built on integrity and excellence, founded like us in a premier global financial capital and with an extraordinary group of longstanding clients. What excites me about this merger is the complementary cultures of our two firms. We have striking similarities across the board, and I believe we are going to be wonderful partners to one another on this journey.’

Adam Hakki, senior partner at Shearman & Sterling, said: ‘Client need for global elite firms has never been greater. They are calling for integrated global legal solutions and advice: merging with Allen & Overy will dramatically accelerate our ability to meet their needs in an increasingly complex environment. Allen & Overy is an outstanding firm whose work we have long admired and thought of as a kindred spirit. We have both always placed great emphasis on attracting and retaining top talent, were early to globalise, and are relentlessly focused on quality, excellence, and collaboration.

‘This is truly a game-changing moment for both firms that will create an unparalleled offering for our clients. It is also a fantastic opportunity for our people to be part of a transformative transaction and an institution of such significance, and we look forward to recruiting even more stellar talent in the coming years.’

Lazard is serving as financial adviser and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is serving as legal counsel to A&O,  while Davis Polk & Wardwell is advising Shearman.

The proposed merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including a vote of the partners of each of the respective firms.

More detail can be found on, a site set up by the firms.

Further analysis to follow in the coming days.

Legal Business

PE lessons: Shearman’s losses and Cravath’s gains show the value of City buyout teams – and the dangers of misfiring

While it may be an oversimplification to say that there has been a certain inevitability to Shearman & Sterling’s decline in recent months, that the firm’s losses should lead to Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s inaugural foray into English law is a coup even the most clued up of pundits could scarcely have foreseen.

Coming as they did from a venerable Wall Street institution which, while having had a London office for some five decades, has never ventured to hire a single English law practitioner, the hires of buyout partners Philip Stopford and Korey Fevzi from Shearman prompted a wave of speculation when they first hit the industry press in March.