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Law firm approves merger

Joe Napsha
| Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

One of Pittsburgh's two largest law firms moved to expand its national and international reach Thursday by announcing the approval of its planned merger with a Seattle-based counterpart.

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, with its largest office Downtown, said it would combine with Preston Gates & Ellis LLP to create a firm with 1,400 attorneys in 21 offices spread around the world.

"This will give us offices from Beijing to Europe. This is forming the law firm of the future," said Peter Kalis, chairman and managing partner of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

The merger, announced in September, was approved by the partners of the firms yesterday. It gives Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, which has East Coast offices, a larger presence on the West Coast and in Asia, Kalis said.

The new firm, which will be known as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP, expects to generate combined annual billings of $750 million. It would be the nation's 10th largest law firm, according to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

The merger will become effective Jan. 1. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham has 250 attorneys at its Pittsburgh office in the Oliver Building, Downtown, and 600 employees total. The merger will not result in any change in those numbers, Kalis said.

The merger is the latest deal among Pittsburgh's leading law firms.

Last year, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart merged with Nicholson Graham & Jones, of London, giving it a strong presence in the United Kingdom.

Reed Smith LLP, which has about 250 local attorneys, announced Nov. 30 it would combine with leading Chicago firm Sachnoff & Weaver Ltd., effective March 1.

Next month, Reed Smith will add the London firm of Richards Butler, which will create a firm with almost 1,550 attorneys in 21 offices.

In July, Buchanan Ingersoll merged with Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling to create a firm with about 200 attorneys in Pittsburgh. The firm is operating under the name of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Additional Information:

Pittsburgh's largest law firms*

Firms -- Attorneys

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP -- 250

Reed Smith LLP -- 250

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC -- 200

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC -- 146

Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote PC -- 109

*Based on number of attorneys in local offices

Source: Law firms

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