Legal Cheek

US merger latest: Womble Bond Dickinson tie-up goes live as BLP/Bryan Cave talks gather pace

BLP deal could be wrapped up as soon as 1 January

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National law firm Bond Dickinson’s merger with United States (US) outfit Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice has officially gone live today, creating a new £340 million transatlantic legal player.

Womble Bond Dickinson, as the firm is now known, boasts over 1,000 lawyers across 24 offices. Guided by 420 partners, the firm is a top 20 outfit here in the United Kingdom and top 80 over in the US. The tie-up — which was first revealed in June — formally cements a successful year-long “strategic alliance” between the two firms.

Bond Dickinson, prior to today’s merger, offered around 30 training contracts annually, according to Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List 2017-18. We understand that this figure is likely to remain unchanged now the deal has officially gone live.

Bond Dickinson was a solid performer in our Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18, scoring an A* for partner approachability and As for training, quality of work and work/life balance. In September, the firm unveiled an autumn retention score of 81%, keeping hold of 22 of its 27 newly qualified lawyers.

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Bond Dickinson’s merger comes only a few years after the firm was itself created out of a tie-up between what were Bond Pearce and Dickinson Dees.

Commenting on today’s unification with the US firm, Womble Bond Dickinson co-chair, Jonathan Blair, said:

“This is a combination of two firms with a common culture and a shared commitment to client service. A growing percentage of our clients have operations on both sides of the Atlantic, and Womble Bond Dickinson will provide those clients with the consistent support they value highly.”

The US firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice was established in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Pre-merger the firm had roughly 550 lawyers across 14 offices.

Sticking with merger news, discussions between international crew Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and US outfit Bryan Cave are understood to be progressing nicely.

According to reports, partners at BLP are preparing to vote on the combination in the coming weeks, with a deal potentially being reached as early as 1 January next year. BLP declined to comment.