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12 April 2021

Holland & Knight in talks to merge with Dallas-based Thompson & Knight

Deal with tentative summer closing date would be largest US merger since Covid-19 struck

By Madeline Anderson

Law firm Shearman & Sterling has opened an office in Dallas

Dallas Shutterstock

Am Law top 40 national US firm Holland & Knight is in merger talks with Dallas-based energy specialist Thompson & Knight in what would be the largest US merger since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A deal would add Thompson & Knight’s 300 lawyers to Holland & Knight’s roster to create a firm with nearly 1,600 lawyers across 30 offices. 

The two firms issued a statement on Friday (9 April) which said they were in the process of completing their due diligence in connection with the transaction and expect to complete the process in the next 90 days, with a tentative closing date set for the summer. 

“This proposed combination would expand significantly each firm’s presence in important geographic markets,” said Mark Sloan, managing partner of Thompson & Knight, and Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight. “It would also improve the depth and breadth of the services offered to clients in key industries.

“Most importantly, the combination would bring together two firms who share similar cultures, and who are focused on providing excellent client service in a collaborative and diverse environment.”

Thompson & Knight’s lawyers are spread across four Texas offices, a New York branch, and international locations in London, Mexico City, Monterrey and Algeria. 

Last month it blamed a slowdown in its core market on a 10% decline in revenue to $200m against a 16% decline in profit-per-equity partner, according to Law.com.

Last week, the firm saw energy transactional partner duo Wesley P. Williams and Jessica Hammons jump to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Dallas and Fort Worth offices respectively. The firm also lost six lawyers to Alston & Bird’s newly opened Fort Worth arm in September last year. 

According to Altman Weil’s Mergerline tracker, just one US merger was announced last year involving at least one target with more than 100 lawyers – the deal between Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton to create Troutman Pepper, whose completion was delayed from April to July due to the pandemic.

However, Dentons continued to add regional law firms to its network throughout the year as part of its Project Golden Spike to build a network of Dentons-branded regional offices covering the entire US, a process that has yielded five combinations including a deal announced last December with Alabama law firm Sirote & Permutt.

In Q1, 26 law firm mergers were announced involving at least one US party, according to Mergerline, seven of which included targets with between 21 and 100 lawyers. These included Crowell & Moring’s acquisition of New York financial services boutique Kibbe & Orbe and St Louis firm Armstrong Teasdale’s takeover of London boutique Kerman & Co.

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