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, Berlin, 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 a few
strategic moves in the United States, with office openings in
Wilmington and Houston, along with the consolidation of the
four-lawyer San Diego office and the firm's growing Orange County
office to allow the firm to take advantage of the synergies in
practice between the two.
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
Partnering with Puma
K&L Gates LLP advised athletic footwear, apparel and accessory
manufacturer PUMA on a five-year partnership deal with Arsenal
Football Club to become the official kit partner for the English
Premier League club. In addition to producing the playing and
training gear for Arsenal FC, PUMA acquired the various licensing
rights to develop other Arsenal-branded merchandise around the
globe. The partnership, which represents the biggest deal in PUMA
and Arsenal's histories and which was reported as the largest
commercial deal in the history of British and European football, is
the latest in a series of deals for PUMA on which K&L Gates has
Above the Clouds
K&L Gates represented Japanese carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) in
a landmark deal in which the company acquired 31 of aircraft
manufacturer Airbus' A350 planes, along with options for a further
25 aircrafts. This marks JAL's first-ever order with Airbus, in
addition to the largest order for the A350 in 2013. JAL and Airbus
plan to enter the new planes into service beginning in 2019, with
the A350 gradually replacing the airline's fleet over a six-year
Recycling More than Just Bottles
K&L Gates represented Darling International Inc., a Texas-based
provider of rendering, recycling and recovery solutions to the
nation's food industry, in two acquisitions. The firm represented
Darling in its €1.6 billion acquisition of Netherlands-based Vion
Ingredients, a worldwide leader in the development and production
of specialty ingredients from animal origin for applications in
pharmaceuticals, food, feed, pet food, fertilizer and bio-energy.
K&L Gates also advised Darling in its approximately CAD $645
million acquisition of Rothsay, a division of Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
and a leading recycler of animal by-products in Canada. The company
processes raw materials into finished products that are sold in
domestic and international markets including the United States,
Europe, Mexico and South America.
Call Me Maybe
K&L Gates advised German telecommunications company Deutsche
Telekom AG and T-Mobile USA in a cash, stock and debt restructuring
deal to combine its T-Mobile USA unit with Texas-based wireless
service provider MetroPCS Communications, Inc. Under the terms of
the business combination agreement, MetroPCS made a cash payment of
$1.5 billion to its stockholders and acquired all of T-Mobile's
capital stock from Deutsche Telekom in exchange for approximately
74 percent of MetroPCS' common stock on a pro forma basis.
A Bright Future
K&L Gates represented Duke Energy in the acquisition from
SolarWorld Americas, LLC of two California solar projects having a
combined capacity of 21MW. These projects will be run as a single
operation and will form the company's largest commercial solar farm
in the United States. Southern California Edison Company has
entered into power purchase and sale agreements under which it has
agreed to purchase all of the energy generated by the projects for
a period of 20 years. This acquisition has given Duke Energy its
largest commercial solar farm in the United States.
Flying at Full Speed
K&L Gates represented AMR Corporation, the parent company of
American Airlines, Inc., in its merger with US Airways Group, Inc.
and its subsidiaries PSA Airlines, Inc. and Piedmont Airlines, Inc.
The combined carrier, operating under the American Airlines name,
creates the world's largest airline with nearly 6,700 daily flights
to more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries and more
than 100,000 employees worldwide. The transaction is expected to
generate more than $1 billion in annual net synergies by 2015.