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Mega merger approved by partners

The merger between law firms Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP and Seattle-based Preston Gates & Ellis LLP has received approval from their respective partners. Managing partner of Kirkpatrick, Peter Kalis, will be the chairman and global managing partner of the merged firm, while managing partner of Preston Gates, Karen E. Glover will serve as the global integration partner. To be branded as K&L Gates, the combination would create Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP, a law firm with 1,400 attorneys, 21 offices across the globe, and revenues of more than $750 million in 2007. However, the new firm will have one specific location serving as the headquarters.

The new entity, K&L Gates, will be governed by a seven-person Executive Committee. Apart from Kalis and Glover, the committee will include Preston Gates' Hong Kong partner David K.Y. Tang, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart members Janice C. Hartman, Paul W. Sweeney Jr., and R. Charles Miller, as well as Martin Lane from Nicholson Graham. The committee is a clearly a reflection of the two firms' diversity commitments.

Kalis, while emphasizing on the importance of the merger, said that the move was a natural progression, as both the firms were eyeing for expansion on the opposite coast - Kirkpatrick & Lockhart toward the west, while Preston Gates to the east coast.

The two firms vary widely in their practice areas. Preston Gates specializes in technology while Kirkpatrick & Lockhart looks after financial services and manufacturing practices. The two firms' differences however are not much of a concern for the authorities. They are hopeful that the dynamic will yield greater success for the new firm.

King & Spalding plans to set up shop in Dubai
King & Spalding plans to expand its practice to the Middle East by opening an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The move, which would take affect only after approval from the firm's partners, is expected to spread its practice in areas of Islamic finance, energy, private equity, real estate, and international arbitration. If the plan materializes, the firm is likely to recruit Philip Weems, King & Spalding's head of energy practice group and partner, for the venture. With more than a decade's experience in Asia and Middle East, Weems, currently housed in the Houston office of the firm, plans to relocate. To join him in Dubai will be Jawad Ali, another partner from London, in the firm's Islamic finance and investment practice. Islam Salah, the head of the firm's Islamic finance and investment practice, will divide time between the New York and Dubai offices.

King & Spalding's clientele in the Arabian Gulf has grown dramatically. The firm, which was named the top Islamic finance legal advisor by Euromoney in 2004, has 800 lawyers working from offices in Atlanta, Houston, London, New York and Washington, DC.

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP


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