Hogan Lovells Bulks Up In Boston with Merger

Hogan Lovells officially merged the 28-lawyer Boston litigation boutique, Collora, into its fold this week, hanging up signs and putting the attorneys there on its website.

CEO Steve Immelt said the firm needed to open in Boston to service its life science clients but wanted to merge so it starts with a large presence there — rather than relocate a partner or try to establish an office through a series of laterals.

“We’re not a firm that’s trying to be in every city in the world,” said Immelt. “It’s not enough to have a map and say ‘we have an office in Boston,’ because clients want to know who’s there.”

He added, “It’s not easy to do these [mergers] and we don’t take them lightly.”

Hogan Lovells has roughly 2,500 attorneys around the world including more than 1,100 attorneys in U.S. offices including in California, Houston, New York, Washington, D.C.

The Boston office, located in the financial district, marks its 15th in the U.S. and claims more than 50 offices on six continents on its website.

In recent years, it has opened in Australia and formed an affiliation with an Indonesian law firm, as it expanded into Asia with lawyers focused on banking, corporate restructuring and other areas. Immelt said the goal is to only open in areas with enough economic activity to drive a significant amount of legal work.

“I would describe [it] as a G20 strategy,” said Immelt. “We’re not in every G20 country but we’re in the markets where there’s enough economic activity to create a lot of legal work.”

About one year ago, he said he called Collora partner Kathy Weinman and proposed a merger and they spent the intervening months discussing and ultimately executing on it.

The pair, along with other attorneys at their firms, had worked together over the years including as co-counsel on a healthcare fraud civil regulatory investigation that spanned seven years. Both Weinman and Immelt declined to name the client.

He said General Electric’s recent move into Boston — where his brother Jeff is still chairman — did not factor into his firm’s desire to move into Boston.

Founded in 1988, Collora has 28 attorneys and is focused on business litigation with a specialty in white collar criminal investigations, Weinman said.

William Lovett, who was Collora’s managing partner and will continue in that role for Hogan Lovells’ Boston office, said even though his boutique is growing 100 times, he’s not expecting many changes. Its attorneys have represented Massachusetts’ former Speaker of the House on trial for bribery, Aston Martin Lagonda of North America, and Fresnius Manufacturing, a German company that specializes in medical equipment for renal dialysis.

“What will change is we’ll probably have a more diverse group of clients, probably expanded beyond Boston a bit,” said Lovett.

Write to the reporter at gabefriedman@outlook.com.

Write to the editor at csullivan@bloomberglaw.com.