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K&L Gates finalises Australian tie-up

K&L Gates has become the latest law firm to seal a deal with an Australian firm

The US firm is to merge with Middletons on January 1. The addition of Middletons’ 300 lawyers and four Australian offices will give the combined firm more than 2,000 lawyers in 46 offices.

K&L Gates says that part of the attraction of the deal was the rapid growth in investment in Australia from businesses in the region. Much of Australia’s inbound investment hails from Greater China, where K&L Gates has offices in Hong Kong and China.

US investors are also active in Australia, where their direct investment has topped $500 billion since 2005. The US firm said that the merger would allow the new firm to “brand itself as the legal solution for both inbound and outbound legal requirements involving Australia and the US”.

K&L Gates ranked in tier 3 for trade mark prosecution work by north-east US firms in this year’s Managing IP survey. Middletons ranked in tier 3 for both trade mark prosecution and contentious work in Australia and in tier 2 for copyright.

In recent years Australian-bound planes have carried plenty of foreign lawyers in search of a law firm tie-up, eager to service clients in a strong economy that has been largely unscathed by the global financial crisis.

Deals have included tie-ups between Herbert Smith and Freehills; Ashurst and Blake Dawson; China’s King & Wood and Mallesons; Norton Rose and Deacons; and Linklaters and Allens Arthur Robinson.

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