US merger puts law firms in world's top 25

WHEN Albert Hammond opened his tiny legal practice in Victorian Bradford, nobody would have guessed that he was establishing a firm that would one day rank among the world's largest.

The one-man firm he created later became Hammonds, which yesterday sealed a merger with US-based Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.

The combined firm, which will come into being on January 1, ranks among the top 25 in the world.

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It will have 1,275 lawyers in 37 offices and 17 countries, and aims to provide "comprehensive legal counsel".

As a result of the deal, Squire Sanders' chairman James J. Maiwurm will be global chief executive officer and chairman, while Hammonds' managing partner Peter Crossley will be managing partner for Europe. The combined firm will be governed by a 13-person global board elected by the partners.

Hammonds, which has offices in Leeds and Manchester, employs more than 1,000 people, including 170 partners, working out of 10 offices in six countries.

Yesterday, Mr Crossley said he hoped the move would lead to more lawyers being hired in Leeds, because the combined firm would lead to a "new and varied career offering".

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As a result of the merger, Hammonds' Yorkshire clients would have the services of a dynamic global organisation and a greater array of potential services, he said.He added: "Globalisation in business is an unstoppable force."

Mr Crossley said that Hammonds had "no issues with debt".

The Hammonds name, which dates from 1887, will remain where the Yorkshire law firm is well known.

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

Mr Maiwurm said: "The pace of the business world is accelerating. Clients expect their law firms to embrace change and seize opportunity even in a challenging business climate,

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"We hear our clients and know they consider cost-effective global counsel the norm, not the exception. The combination of our firms is designed for the times and positioned for the future.

"We will continue to seek bold solutions for clients wherever their business takes them, and we willdo this in a collaborative fashion that makes us both an inviting place to work and a great choice for clients."

Mr Crossley added: "Clients currently working with lawyers from both legacy firms are enthusiastic about the combination's expanded practice expertise, industry knowledge, regional strength and global reach. We are delighted to report that clients' reactions reflect what we concluded after we began discussions with Squire Sanders. Simply put, we are better together."

In a statement issued yesterday, Hammonds and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey said that the combined legal practice will have extra depth in practices essential to managing complex matters as well as cross-practice industry knowledge.

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The expanded practice's strengths include corporate finance, litigation and arbitration, insolvency and restructuring, real estate, labour and employment, intellectual property, pensions and tax.

Industry expertise will also grow in sectors such as energy and utilities, chemicals, media, sports and entertainment, financial services and banking, maritime and information technology.

The statement added: "As a result of the combination, clients will have additional support in more markets where they do business.

"The London office, supported by UK regional offices, will have added depth in all practices essential to cross-border transactions and disputes.

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"There will be more complete service throughout Continental Europe, such as an expanded Brussels office to provide additional European Union competition and trade advice, as well as corporate, banking and finance, real estate and restructuring counsel."

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


Partners at US-based Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and Hammonds have approved a combination agreement that creates a new top-tier global legal practice. Hammonds dates from the late 19th century.

Albert Victor Hammond qualified as a solicitor in 1887 and set up a practice on his own in Bradford. The practice expanded steadily and in 1988 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 Suddards Edge. Today the firm practices in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France and China.

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Yesterday, Hammonds said the Leeds office was performing extremely well. The firm recently advised private equity firm LDC on its 56m management buyout of JHP Group, one of the UK's largest providers of vocational educational training.

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