Mayer Brown to Focus on Integration Not Mergers, Krueger Says

Mayer Brown LLP, the Chicago-based law firm that has expanded in Brazil and Hong Kong in the past three years, will focus on integrating existing operations rather than combining with other firms, its chairman said.

“Our immediate strategy and focus is to build up what we have in Asia, America and Europe,” Herbert Krueger Jr. said when asked if he were looking at expansion into other countries like India and Russia.

The firm’s individual partners in Asia earn more profit than those in the U.S. or U.K., he said. Mayer Brown combined with Hong Kong’s Johnson Stokes & Master in 2008 and with London’s Rowe & Maw in 2002. An association was announced in December with Brazilian law firm Tauil & Chequer Advogados.

U.S. and U.K. firms have merged this year to form the 1,400-strong SNR Denton and 2,500-lawyer Hogan Lovells, and consolidation in the legal industry will continue, Krueger said. Mayer Brown and London-based Simmons & Simmons ended merger talks in June saying a combination wasn’t “the right option.”

Restrictions on foreign law firms operating in India are unlikely to change soon and Mayer Brown is focused on integrating the U.S. and Asian partnerships rather than further expansion, Krueger said.

Mayer Brown has three partnerships, with the Asian one known as Mayer Brown JSM, a name that will be retained, Krueger said.

New Clients

The combination with the Asian partnership has already helped win new clients, advising such companies as Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., on its acquisition of General Motor Co.’s Saab unit’s technology, according to Mayer Brown JSM’s Senior Partner Elaine Lo. Lawyers in China, Germany and Chicago worked on the deal, she said.

With 1,750 lawyers around the world, the number of Mayer Brown’s Asia-based lawyers has grown by 10 percent since 2008, to 294. Lo said its capital markets, structured finance, energy and infrastructure, and funds practices still need to be expanded.

The firm also plans to send Chinese-speaking lawyers to its U.S. and European offices, she said.

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