At a Glance
Interesting, challenging work for varied clients
“The genuine interest that everyone takes in your development”
“The firm is very ambitious in the international context”
“The lack of brand awareness amongst peers”
Not everyone appreciates performance-based pay structure
About K&L Gates LLP (Europe)
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.
When Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham and Seattle-based Preston Gates & Ellis joined forces—and names—in 2007, the merger was but one of many for this firm. Preston Gates—as in William Gates Sr, father of Microsoft honcho Bill—was a West Coast firm well known for its work in the intellectual property, technology and public policy sectors, as well as its lobbying clout. Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham was itself the product of one of the largest transatlantic mergers in legal history: the 2005 pairing of Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and London’s Nicholson Graham & Jones.
The roots of success
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 & Jones—a City firm that dated back to 1858—cemented K&L Gates’ status as an international firm. The London office’s key practices include finance, real estate, corporate finance, construction, tax, insurance coverage, intellectual property, technology and dispute resolution. Its corporate finance team regularly helps US clients keen to hitch a ride on the AIM, London’s junior stock market.
Still going strong
After the K&L Gates combination was formed, the firm continued to grow by gobbling up smaller outfits in the United States, including Texas-based Hughes & Luce; Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, a household name in Carolina legal circles; and Chicago firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd. International expansion has also 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 Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt, and it recently debuted in the growing Middle East markets with offices in Dubai (2009) and Doha (2011). In 2010, the firm also made its way to Moscow and Warsaw, the latter through the acquisition of the former Hogan & Hartson’s office.
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.
New practice recognises needs of new century
In August 2011, K&L Gates added a new global practice area to its offerings: energy, infrastructure and resources. The new EIR practice consolidates into one group the firm’s existing strengths in these key areas. Among the firm’s longstanding clients are major players in the oil industry such as Halliburton Company. K&L Gates has completed a number of energy and resource-related transactions in recent months, including the $1.7 billion sale of natural gas companies Phillips Resources and TWP Inc. to Exxon.
Shale and shale alike
In another notable energy deal completed in 2011, K&L Gates advised Karak International Oil, a subsidiary of UK company Jordan Energy & Mining Limited, on a $1.8 billion concession agreement with the Jordanian Government to develop part of that country’s oil shale reserves. Experts believe Jordan is sitting on 40 billion tons of oil shale deposits, and the new extraction and processing project is aimed at reducing the nation’s dependence on imported oil and gas.
Let them eat cake
In March 2011, K&L Gates advised global bakery and restaurant company Groupe Le Duff on its merger with Bruegger’s Enterprises, which began as a local bakery in Vermont and has since become an international brand backed by Sun Capital Partners. The combined entity, now one of the largest operators in the café-bakery sector, with over 1,100 locations worldwide, is expected to see annual sales of $1.53 billion.
New digs for the kids
The charity Action for Children called on K&L Gates when it sold its headquarters in Highbury Park, Islington, in April 2011. Developer Mount Anvil purchased the property with plans to create 143 dwellings. Action for Children reaches thousands of disadvantaged children throughout the UK through resources like community centres and assistance for disabled children.
A prize-winning performance
Like most large law firms, K&L Gates was not immune from the effects of the recent economic downturn, and management paid tribute to the realities of the trembling transactional and finance markets by laying off a number of lawyers and staff in 2009. But the firm still performed well in 2009, managing to hire 177 new partners that year and increase revenue by 10.1 per cent. In fact, K&L Gates’ relative success and strategic positioning during the Great Recession earned it the top ranking in The American Lawyer’s “Recession Performance Index”, which rated how the world’s largest law firms fared during the years 2007 through 2009 by analyzing global revenue, lawyer headcount, profits per partner and revenue per lawyer. K&L Gates’ financial success continued in 2009 and 2010, when it reported increases in global revenue and profits—increases reflected in the performance of the firm’s London office as well.
One New Change
London EC4M 9AF
Phone: +44 (0)20 7648 9000
Chairman & global managing partner: Peter J. Kalis
Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Palo Alto, CA
New York, NY
Research Triangle Park, NC
Fort Worth, TX
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
London, United Kingdom
Hong Kong, Hong Kong