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International law jobs aplenty with another three-way merger on the horizon

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/11/12

The year 2012 has been characterised by three things: the fruits of large-scale Biglaw mergers making their presence known on the Top 250 tables; in-house law jobs making a real run at the private practice monopoly; and sports. Seriously, everyone is going crazy for sports. You can’t move for javelins, up in 2012.

But only the first two really have a huge impact on the slowly-changing global legal scene. Forget sports for a minute. Take off that headband. Earlier this year, American Lawyer’s annual Global 100 list was dominated by new faces in the form of mergers, from the hulking chimera of Squire Sanders to the pair of Siamese twins that is CMS Legal, both marking their newly reborn arrival with a rise up the global listings. And, according to reports, there could be a new merger a-brewing.

As Legal Week reports, SNR Denton, Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC) are all putting their heads together and then pushing said heads together really hard and hoping at some crucial point their heads will collectively emit a “pop!” and form into one super-head, to wit: they are planning a billion dollar three-way merger.

“Partners at all three firms are set to vote on the union at the end of this month, paving the way for the creation of a combined firm with revenues of more than $1 billion (£625,000), which would be structured as a Swiss verein,” said Legal Week’s Pui-Guan Man. Verein structures are, like, so 2012, too. “Should the deal receive the required partner approval it will go live in the first quarter of 2013.”

What would that mean, though? Well, firstly, a new super-player would emerge in the global rankings. One arm of the proposed deal, SNR Denton, already made an impact on the Global 100 earlier this year following the merger in 2010 of UK-based Denton Wilde Sapte LLP and US-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP. Now they are reportedly in talks to add Salans (a long-mooted merger that was pushed back for vote in September) and FMC to that particular piquant legal smoothie. It’s complicated for us, yes, but think of how much headed paper the firm has to keep reprinting. Spare a thought.

“Management of the combined entity has yet to be finalised,” Guan continued. “However, it is thought likely that SNR Denton global chief executive Elliott Portnoy will take charge of the group, with Salans global managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk also expected to take up a senior management role.”

And it’s expected that the new super-merger will quickly trouble the Top 20 ranking, combining SNR Dentons turnover ($712 million [£443 million] in the last financial year) with Salans ($287 million [£179 million]) to easily near the top of the lists on revenue alone. It’s sort of cheating, yes, but it’s not like nobody else is doing it.

But it’s not just revenues that will benefit. As one partner at a Canadian firm told Legal Week, the suddenly extended global reach of such a merger – taking advantage of Salans emerging markets share and SNR Denton’s international presence – will also be a boon for all of the firms involved.