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Allen & Overy, Shearman & Sterling to merge

Global law firm Allen & Overy will be merging with US-headquartered BigLaw firm Shearman & Sterling to be a “firm unlike any other in the world” at a time when client demand for global elite firms “has never been greater”.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 22 May 2023 Big Law
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While Australia was sleeping overnight, two of the biggest law firms in the world unveiled intentions to create the “first fully integrated global elite law firm”.

Allen Overy Shearman Sterling, or A&O Shearman for short, will have a combined 3,900 lawyers and 800 partners across 49 offices globally and be — the two firms said in a joint statement — the only global law firm with US law, English law and local law capabilities “in equal measure”.

A&O brings approximately 5,800 professionals to the merger, including almost 600 partners, while S&S has more than 700 practising lawyers globally.

 
 

The two firms have a combined revenue of US$3.4 billion.

The news comes months after talks of a proposed merger between S&S and transatlantic law firm Hogan Lovells, which also has a presence in Australia, were abandoned.

The proposed merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including partner votes within each of the respective firms. Over the coming weeks, the joint statement noted, the firms will seek support for the merger via “extensive” discussions with their partners and staff.

A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe said that the new “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,” he said.

“We, A&O Shearman, will do this by accelerating our ability to bring the best of both firms, regardless of geography.”

Mr Dejonghe called S&S “an incredible group of legal minds” and labelled it a firm that is “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,” he posited.

S&S senior partner Adam Hakki added that client demand 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,” he argued.

“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, Mr Hakki went on, 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,” he submitted.

The joint statement noted that the merger would “transform” the legal services offering to clients, with S&S gaining access to a dramatically expanded “rest of the world” offering across practice areas, and A&O benefiting from increased board-level recognition and expanded access to a corporate client base in the US.

Lawyers Weekly has reached out to A&O Shearman to determine the impact of the proposed merger on A&O’s Australian operations.