Merger creates global player

THEY were both founded in the industrial heartlands of their respective countries, at a time when globalisation was in its infancy.

US law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, and Yorkshire-based Hammonds, have marked the completion of their merger – which creates one of the largest legal practices in the world – by holding a champagne reception at Leeds City Museum.

As a result of the deal, Squire Sanders & Dempsey chairman James Maiwurm has become global chief executive officer and chairman, while Hammonds' managing partner, Peter Crossley, has taken on the role of managing partner for Europe. The combined firm is governed by a 13-person global board elected by the partners.

The combined firm, which came into being on January 1, ranks among the top 25 in the world. It has 1,275 lawyers in 37 offices and 17 countries, and aims to provide "comprehensive legal counsel".

Hammonds was founded in the 1880s in Bradford, by a sole practitioner, Albert Victor Hammond.

At the time of the merger, Hammonds employed more than 1,000 people, including 170 partners, working out of 10 offices in six countries. Squire Sanders was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in the late 19th century.

Mr Maiwurm, who attended the Leeds City Museum event, highlighted the cultural similarities between the two firms.

He told the Yorkshire Post: "We very much like the Hammonds position in this part of the world. What we aim to do is provide additional resources that can help them build their practice. It could mean more jobs, it could mean growth here – what we want to do, as Hammonds has, is invest in the community and the region, and the businesses here.

"We want to be in a position to serve clients who have global needs. The middle-sized businesses in Yorkshire, Birmingham, Manchester and Paris are all doing business on a global basis. The trend towards globalisation is irreversible. We're trying to shape our law firm in a manner consistent with overall business trend.

"We are blessed by the fact that we are as diverse as we are. We have great geographic diversity, good practice diversity, and lots of different industry strengths.

"The Hammonds combination actually adds to the diversity worldwide. Yorkshire is not unlike where Squire Sanders was founded in the middle of the United States."

Jonathan Jones, the managing partner for the Leeds office of Squire Sanders Hammonds, told the audience of 250 business leaders: "Yorkshire's 'can do' attitude has ensured that the Leeds city region is viewed as a leader in world-class innovation, manufacturing, healthcare, skills and education and digital and media and we feel privileged to have been a part of that.

"We are off to a strong start for 2011 and believe that our combination with Squire Sanders will be a catalyst for lasting change both for us and the clients we serve. This is a combination not from weakness but from strength, offering clients services that they may not have been able to access previously coupled with worldwide geographic reach from Yorkshire.

"That said, Hammonds was a business set up in Yorkshire, rooted in Yorkshire and instilled with Yorkshire values. This office will continue to focus on Yorkshire businesses and the Leeds market. In short, that will remain a major part of what, and who, we are. That, coupled with the increased breadth and geographic reach from the merger, is, I believe, a truly frightening prospect for our local competitors."

The combined practice will be named Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, but will be known as Squire, Sanders Hammonds in most of Hammonds' legacy jurisdictions.

The merged firm has a particularly strong presence in Germany, with offices in Berlin and Frankfurt.

FACTFILE

Hammonds can trace its roots to late Victorian Bradford. In 1988, it merged with another Bradford law firm, Last Suddards. The merged firm was called Hammond Suddards. In 2000, Hammond Suddards merged with Midlands-based Edge Ellison, to become Hammonds Suddard Edge. The firm expanded to include practices in Belgium, Spain and China.