Mega merger Allen Overy Shearman Sterling looms

One of the biggest stories in the history of the legal market, is on the verge of becoming a reality. The leaders of the magic circle firm, Allen & Overy, and the US firm Shearman & Sterling, have announced a merger plan for the creation of a global law firm that will be called Allen Overy Shearman Sterling, or A&O Shearman for short. While the news isn’t official yet, the new logo was displayed in a promotional video on the Twitter account of A&O earlier today.

Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling have a combined 250 years of experience and some of the greatest legal talent in the world. At the beginning of the year, the American-based law firm had been discussing a merger with Hogan Lovells. The deal, however, fell through.

The looming represents the first merger between a UK magic circle firm and an American player since Clifford Chance joined Rogers & Wells in 2000. It’s also a big step forward in Allen & Overy’s bid to gain a significant position in the US market, after the failure of its merger attempt with the Californian firm O’Melveny & Myers four years ago.

“This combination of two large firms is a very exciting step for us. Both firms have a history of excellence and together we think A&O Shearman will be a firm unlike any other in the world,” said Wim Dejonghe, senior partner at Allen & Overy. We have listened to our clients and their requests for the highest quality advice to help them address their needs, and to do so in a globally integrated and consistent manner. With A&O Shearman, we will do this by accelerating our ability to bring you the best of both worlds, regardless of geography. What excites me about this merger is the complementarity of the cultures of our two studios. We have remarkable similarities across all sectors and I believe we will be excellent partners with each other on this journey.”

For Adam Hakki, senior partner at Shearman & Sterling, “the need for clients to turn to global elite firms has never been stronger. They are demanding integrated global legal advice and solutions – the merger with Allen & Overy will greatly accelerate our ability to meet their needs in an increasingly complex environment. Allen & Overy is an outstanding firm whose work we have long admired and consider a kindred spirit. We have both always placed great emphasis on attracting and retaining the best talent, we were early adopters of globalization and relentlessly focused on quality, excellence and collaboration. This is truly a watershed moment for both firms, one that will create an unrivaled offering for our clients. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for our associates to be part of such a transformative transaction and institution, and we look forward to recruiting even more stellar talent in the coming years.”

The merger is subject to the vote of the partners from both firms, but at this point, it seems unlikely that the outcome could be different from a merger.

Michael Heron