Intergalactic Law Firm

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a former colleague who still practices law with a mega firm in the Silicon Valley. He was asking about the big players in the Pittsburgh legal market. I rattled them off -- Buchanan Ingersoll, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, Eckert Seamans, Reed Smith. Reed Smith?, he asked. He had no idea that Reed Smith -- which he knew from its Bay Area office -- was a Pittsburgh firm.

Similarly, most of Pittsburgh will yawn at the news that downtown law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart is merging with Seattle's Preston Gates & Ellis. What's one more 1,400 lawyer enterprise in a world of mega law? The new K&L Gates won't even be close to being the world's largest law firm -- though it might crack the top 10.

But this is interesting stuff. In business terms, this is good news. One of Pittsburgh's largest and oldest business enterprises will cease being a Pittsburgh-centric operation. It's going global. K&L is primarily East Coast and Europe. Preston, Gates & Ellis is primarily a West Coast and Pacific Rim firm. Geographically, the two firms complement each other pretty well. There will be no real geographic center of gravity. I'm told that the practices of the firms are also complementary: K&L picks up some much-needed Washington DC gravitas and antitrust expertise.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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