What a difference a couple of years make: the firm now branded
K&L Gates has undergone a series of identity-shifting mergers
in modern times. On the strength of several such deals, the firm
has grown into one of BigLaw's more massive operations while
working on everything from corporate transactions and complex
litigation to environmental law and policy work.
The new Millennium saw a flurry of mergers, which formed what we
now know as K&L Gates. In January 2007, Seattle's Preston Gates
& Ellis got hitched to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson
Graham (itself the product of one of the largest U.S.-U.K. mergers
in legal history: the 2005 pairing of Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick
& Lockhart and London's Nicholson Graham & Jones). A year
later, the reshaped firm merged with Texas-based Hughes & Luce,
increasing K&L Gates' presence in the Lone Star State. In
July 2008, the firm combined with Kennedy Covington Lobdell &
Hickman, a household name in Carolina legal circles; the merger
gave K&L Gates a significant presence throughout the Carolinas.
The addition of Chicago firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd's 250 lawyers
and lobbyists eight months thereafter (in March 2009) bolstered
K&L Gates' ranks in Chicago and DC and provided an entrée into
the San Diego region's thriving biotech industry.
With all of these parts comes a lot of history. Kirkpatrick &
Lockhart dates back to 1946, when a team of seven Reed Smith
attorneys hung out a shingle together. After flourishing in
Pennsylvania, the firm reached the Washington, DC area through a
1981 tie-up with Hill Christopher & Phillips, a boutique
focused on securities law. From there, the firm spread to Boston,
Miami, New York, Texas and California. The merger with Nicholson
Graham-a firm that dated back to mid-19th-century England-cemented
K&L Gates' status as an international firm.
As for Preston Gates-as in William H. Gates Sr., father of
Microsoft honcho Bill-the West Coast firm was well-known for its
work in the IP, technology and public policy sectors, as well as
its lobbying clout.
International expansion has been on K&L Gates' agenda in recent
years. The firm has broadened its presence in Europe and Asia with
the opening of offices in Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris,
Brussels, Frankfurt, Milan, Moscow and Warsaw; has debuted in the
growing Middle East markets with Dubai and Doha offices; and
entered the South American market with an office in São Paulo. In
January 2013, K&L Gates combined with Australian national law
firm Middletons, adding four offices in Australia and extending the
firm's presence in the Asia Pacific region. 2013 also saw new
additions in the United States, with office openings in Wilmington
At the same time, the firm has expanded the scope of its practice,
taking a full-service approach to its work with clients across many
industries (don't be fooled by the short list of core practice
areas; each contains a slew of specialist and industry sub-groups).
Unlike some big firms that rely on a few key clients for the bulk
of their billings, K&L Gates' policy of diversification means
that its revenues are spread widely across many clients.
IN THE NEWS
K&L Gates advised T-Mobile USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Deutsche
Telekom, in a $1.5 billion cash, stock, and debt restructuring deal
which combined T-Mobile USA with Texas-based wireless service
provider MetroPCS Communications, Inc. The transaction resulted in
Deutsche Telekom owning a 74 percent stake in the combined
Largest Jury Verdict of 2012
K&L Gates guided Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to a $1.17
billion verdict over Bermuda-based Marvell Technology Group Ltd.
and Marvell Semiconductor, Inc., representing one of the
largest-ever jury verdicts to be awarded in a patent infringement
case and the largest jury verdict of 2012. The jury agreed that
Marvell infringed CMU patents relating to fundamental technology
for increasing the accuracy with which hard disk drive circuits
read data from high-speed magnetic disks and found Marvell's
infringement was willful, which provided the legal foundation for
the judge to increase the jury's verdict by as much as three times
the amount awarded.
A Pension Plan Buyout that Made History
K&L Gates represented State Street Bank and Trust Company, the
independent fiduciary, in a landmark $26 billion pension plan
buyout offered by General Motors to about 120,000 of its salaried
retirees and the shifting of its salaried retiree pension program
and investment management responsibility to The Prudential
Insurance Company of America through the purchase of a group
annuity contract. The transaction is believed to be the largest
pension plan buyout in U.S. history.
Climb Every Mountain
K&L Gates represented Columbia Sportswear in its joint venture
with Swire Resources Ltd., a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Swire
Pacific Limited, to expand a market-leading position for Columbia
brand products and grow the Mountain Hardware brand in China.
Wind Farm for the Win
K&L Gates represented Boralex Inc. in a series of transactions
leading to the acquisition, through Boralex subsidiary Boralex
Energie France SAS, of a 34.5 MW wind farm in operation from AES
Corporation based in the U.S., as well as three fully-authorized
wind projects totaling 56 MW of installed capacity acquired from
French company InnoVent SAS. Projects are located in the
Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie regions of France.
K&L Gates advised the Incadea Group, a leading provider of
enterprise software solutions and services to the global automotive
retail and wholesale market based in Austria, on its Euro 17
million institutional placing and IPO on the AIM Market of the
London Stock Exchange plc.