By Christine Simmons, New York Law Journal
Leaders of Arnold & Porter and Kaye Scholer have known each other for years but began serious merger discussions in the last year, culminating in a union announced Thursday that could create a law firm generating close to $1 billion in revenue.
The combination, effective Jan. 1, will form Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer.
The merged firm—the only union this year between Am Law 100 firms—will have about 1,000 lawyers, including 300 partners, across nine domestic and four international offices, the firms said. It will create deep benches of hundreds of lawyers in both New York and Washington, D.C.
The union represents further consolidation among mid-size and large firms seeking to compete with global giants and to bulk up in competitive legal markets amid lackluster demand for corporate legal services.
Both firms emerged from 2015 in weakened financial positions compared with previous years. However, firm leaders, who declined to disclose any predictions of 2016 financials, said the merger was not borne out of short-term revenue falls but long-term strategy.
"We've seen periods of increase and decrease and we have managed through all of those," Kaye Scholer managing partner Michael Solow said. "We wanted this because what we believe it does collectively for the group," the firms' clients and services that clients are seeking.
Richard Alexander, chair of Arnold & Porter who will serve as head of the combined firm, said the firms have a shared commitment to pro bono, having a consensus organization and to diversity and inclusion. "This combination gives us additional resources, of people, balance sheet, clients and talent to invest in those core values," he said.
Through the tie up, Kaye Scholer, founded in 1917, gains a strong regulatory and litigation practice in D.C., while Arnold & Porter, founded in 1946 and among the top-tier of firms in Washington, adds a strong New York presence, mid-market deal work and tremendous pharmaceutical and life science business, said Lawrence Mullman, a partner Major Lindsey & Africa who has recruited for Kaye Scholer.
He praised the merger: "They play to each others' strengths."