Law firms Gowlings, Wragge Lawrence merge to form Gowling WLG

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s second-largest independent law firm, Gowlings, merged on Monday with UK-based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co to form a new international law firm, Gowling WLG, with offices across Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The merger, initially agreed on last July, is the latest in a string of Canadian law firm tie-ups with overseas rivals in recent years, as domestic firms vie to win more business from clients operating in overseas jurisdictions.

It will, however, mark the first time that a Canadian law firm is co-leading the new combined entity, as other multinational firms with a large Canadian presence have typically absorbed Canadian rivals.

Last year, Vancouver-based Davis LLP was absorbed into DLA Piper, while Norton Rose Fulbright expanded into Canada through moves on erstwhile firms Ogilvy Renault and Macleod Dixon.

“This merger will help us serve our clients better ... as we are doubling our expertise quotient overnight,” said Peter Lukasiewicz, chief executive of Gowling WLG Canada, noting that both firms each have about 700 lawyers.

The combined firm will have over 1,400 legal professionals spread across 10 different countries. It will be led by a six-member international board comprising three members from each of the founding firms.

Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jonathan Oatis