New York and Melbourne — The partners of global law firm K&L Gates LLP and Australian national firm Middletons have voted unanimously to combine firms effective January 1, 2013. The addition of Middletons’ 300 lawyers and four offices — in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane — extends K&L Gates’ global reach to more than 2,000 lawyers in 46 offices across five continents. The combined firm will employ the K&L Gates name.

Through the combination, K&L Gates greatly enhances its Asia-Pacific regional coverage to 400 lawyers and 11 offices, including a recently announced office in Seoul, and becomes the first firm to combine with an Australian firm to form a single integrated global law firm. In addition to the common brand, from the outset the firm will enjoy full financial, operational, and technological integration, as well as unitary global governance and a single approach to partner compensation.

K&L Gates Chairman and Global Managing Partner Peter J. Kalis and Middletons National Managing Partner Nick Nichola stated: “By their resoundingly affirmative votes, our partners have boldly seized the future by aligning our business with the businesses of clients in an era of intense consolidation and globalization. With the largest integrated network of law offices and law partners of any global law firm, our clients will be able seamlessly and efficiently to access top-notch legal resources around the corner and around the world.”

Among the many strategic advantages of the combination are:

Unsurpassed coverage in the Asia-Pacific region: Expanding K&L Gates’ global footprint to a fifth continent, the combination significantly bolsters the firm’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region to more than 400 lawyers across 11 offices, including Beijing, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo. With the extraordinary inbound investment into Australia from the region, especially from China, and with four of Australia’s five largest trading partners — China, Japan, Korea, and India — located in the region, the combined firm will have the resources on the ground to handle the most sophisticated legal requirements.

Extensive Australian base: With 300 lawyers, including 70 partners, located in established offices in Australia’s leading financial and commercial centers and possessing substantial experience acting for industry leaders, major corporations, capital markets participants, and governments on groundbreaking legal transactions, both domestically and internationally, the firm’s Australian operations provide vast knowledge of the Australian legal marketplace across a wide spectrum of industries.

Practice strengths: Along with the strong geographic advantages in the global economy, the combination also enhances the firm’s capabilities in a number of practices, among them, corporate, energy and resources, banking and financial services, intellectual property, labor law and industrial relations, litigation and dispute resolution, infrastructure and projects, real estate, competition and regulatory, technology, biotechnology and life sciences, and capital markets.

U.S. investment: With U.S. direct investment in Australia since 2005 totaling in excess of US$500 billion, the combined firm will be in a position to brand itself as the legal solution for both inbound and outbound legal requirements involving Australia and the U.S.