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
Riding the Iron Rails
K&L Gates is advising Qatar Railways Company on the development
of one of the most comprehensive rail networks in the Gulf.
Specifically, the firm is advising on the $8 billion systems and
signaling integration (SSI) contract for the Doha Metro Project and
the $10 billion long term maintenance of these systems.
K&L Gates lawyers from around the world have teamed up in a
global assault on perpetrators of so called "revenge porn" by
launching the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project to provide pro bono
legal help to victims of nonconsensual pornography or cyber
exploitation. Case work consists of removing the offending images
from websites worldwide and/or bringing civil lawsuits to help
victims seek legal recourse against perpetrators.
K&L Gates advised Québec-based Boralex Inc., a renewable energy
power producer, on its acquisition of French wind farm owner and
operator Enel Green Power France SAS for a total net consideration
of approximately €280 million in cash. The transaction makes
Boralex the largest independent wind power producer in France, and
the third largest onshore wind player, behind only the two
incumbent French utilities.
K&L Gates represented Microsoft Corporation in its acquisition
of SyntaxTree SARL, a French company that provides app developers
with application usage analytics and the ability to send push
notifications based on customer usage patterns.
Sit Back and Relax
K&L Gates represented Brookstone Company Inc. and its
affiliates in its Chapter 11 reorganization. The United States
Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware confirmed
Brookstone's Chapter 11 plan, which provided for the sale of the
company's stock to Sailing Innovation (US), Inc., a joint venture
between Chinese firms Sanpower Group and Sailing Capital, and for
the reorganized company to continue to operate under the Brookstone
name in virtually all of its 250 existing retail stores.
A Tasty Deal
K&L Gates advised North Carolina-based Snyder's-Lance, the
second largest snack manufacturer in the United States, in its $430
million disposition of its private brands business, consisting of
operations in the United States and Canada; its $195 million
acquisition of Baptista's Bakery, a private snack food
manufacturer; and its majority investment in Late July Organic
Snacks, a leader in organic and nongenetically modified snacks.