A&O Shearman: A new Magic Circle mega-firm is born

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By Thomas Connelly on


Historic tie-up goes live today

Credit: Dr. Nadja Harraschain/LinkedIn

The hotly anticipated mega-merger between Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy and US outfit Shearman & Sterling officially goes live today.

The newly established firm, Allen Overy Shearman Sterling, known as A&O Shearman for short, comprises nearly 4,000 lawyers across 48 offices in 29 countries, with a combined annual revenue of around $3.5 billion (£2.9 billion).

The firms first went public with their intentions to merge in May 2023, with more than 99% of partners going on to vote in favour of the move.

Last month, Legal Cheek exclusively revealed that newly qualified associates at the firm will start on a salary of £125,000, with trainees receiving £50,000 in year one, which will increase to £55,000 in year two.

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While these rates align with those previously offered at Allen & Overy, juniors joining the new firm from Shearman find themselves earning less than they had initially expected. This is because the US outfit paid £55,000 in year one, £60,000 in year two, and £145,000 on qualification.

Pre merger, A&O recruited around 80 trainees each year year, while Shearman took on 12 or so in London. It’s unclear what the new intake will be now that the firms have merged.

A&O Shearman’s headquarters is currently located at One Bishops’ Square in London (formerly A&O’s office), with plans to relocate to a much smaller space at 2 Broadgate near Liverpool Street station by 2027.

Denise Gibson, a banking partner based in London, has been appointed as the managing partner for the UK. Dave Lewis, who previously managed A&O’s New York office until earlier this year, has been appointed as co-managing partner for the US. He will share this role with Shearman’s Doreen Lilienfeld.

The firm’s new senior partner, Khalid Garousha, based in Abu Dhabi, has been serving as A&O’s interim global managing partner since July 2023. Meanwhile, Hervé Ekué, formerly head of the A&O office in Paris, has assumed the role of managing partner.

Meanwhile, former Shearman senior partner Adam Hakki has assumed roles as co-chair of the global A&O Shearman board and executive committee, along with chairing the firm’s US business. Doreen Lilienfeld, former global managing partner at Shearman, now serves as co-managing partner of the firm’s US business.



Plans to relocate to smaller premises doesn’t exactly sing confidence in growth plans. I’d expect consolidation.


“Plans to relocate to smaller premises doesn’t exactly sing confidence in growth plans.”

A&O did that lease before the merger. They’ll def. rent more space now.

Kirkland NQ

It’s not a “mega firm” unless NQs can afford Lambos.

Associate @ HFW

What an odious comment


Car crash incoming – think of BCLP x10


Huge if true


O’Melveny seething.

Market enjoyer

Two firms in relative decline merging for survival – will be interesting to see if they manage to pull ahead of the rest of the old guard.


How is a&o in decline? Revenue and PEP been going up consistently year on year.

Market enjoyer

“Relative” decline


Absolutely bizarre to claim that A&O is in decline? Highest revenue of any of the magic circle firms and growing year on year. Sounds like someone who got rejected….


In what world is A&O “in relative decline”?

Market enjoyer

Their PEP now puts them at around 40th in the world.

A decade ago they were much higher.

Scream all you want – the numbers don’t lie.


The highest PEP comes from American operations so it’s difficult to have a global presence and high PEP. see DLA Piper or Dentons or Baker … but it’s worth it IMO. We’re moving to a global world.

Profit lady

Worth it in what way? The whole point of a law firm is to make money!

White Shoe + Magic Circle Gattai

I think the terms “Magic Shoe” is more appropriate


Really exciting. Should be able to bring some serious synergies and efficiencies to the new firm.


Nothing more than a merger of mediocrity.

Shear Man

🎶A (&) O…

Let’s go! 🎶

cool guy

this is a reference to The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

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