Canadian law firm Gowlings, Britain's WLG to merge

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian law firm Gowlings has agreed to merge with Britain’s Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP in a deal that could lead to further international expansion, the two firms said on Wednesday.

The new firm, Gowling WLG, will launch January 2016. It will have more than 1,400 lawyers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It will be led by a board that includes the chief executives of both firms.

In a release, Gowlings Chief Executive Scott Jolliffe said the new firm would look to expand further, adding more “like-minded firms” in the next few years.

Several Canadian law firms in recent years have merged with international partners in deals aimed at winning more business from clients operating in multiple jurisdictions.

The two firms are roughly the same size, with more than 700 lawyers in 10 offices around the world. Both operate in the United Kingdom, Russia and China, but Gowlings also has seven sites across Canada, while WLG has operations in Brussels, Dubai, Monaco, Munich, Paris and Singapore.

Their focus areas include life sciences, mining, energy and real estate, among others.

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson