Kenyon & Kenyon to Dissolve, Lawyers Joining Andrews Kurth

Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg

After months of losing partners, the intellectual property firm Kenyon & Kenyon announced on Monday it will dissolve — but its 55 lawyers will jump en masse to the Houston-founded law firm Andrews Kurth.

The group hire creates a 400-plus lawyer law firm, that will be known as Andrews Kurth Kenyon everywhere — except Texas where it will continue as Andrews Kurth.

The deal has already been signed and is expected to close Sept. 1. The news marks an end of Kenyon & Kenyon, which was founded in 1879 in New York, and reached its peak size at about 150 lawyers in 2014. Since then, it lost nearly two-thirds of its headcount. Asked about this shrinkage, Kenyon’s managing partner Ed Colbert said his firm had been “recalibrating” in recent years to retain only its most profitable practices and was looking for a “transformative” merger.

“I’ve known Andrews Kurth for a long time … We think it’s a terrific cultural fit,” said Colbert, who is based in Washington, D.C. and whose famed brother Stephen hosts ‘The Late Show’.

By joining forces with the full-service law firm Andrews Kurth, Colbert said the Kenyon lawyers would be better positioned to meet their clients’ needs, who increasingly want “efficiencies” and “integrated solutions,” meaning law firms with a larger geographic and practical footprint.

Despite losing dozens of lawyers, Colbert claimed it hadn’t lost any clients and remained profitable.

Kenyon & Kenyon posted $108 million in gross revenue in the most recent data available, from 2014, making it the 190th largest firm with $740,000 revenue per lawyer, according to ALM. In 2015, Andrews Kurth reportedly posted $297 million in revenue, ranking 108th and with $930,000 revenue per lawyer, ALM reported.

“We’ve been looking to expand our intellectual property space for several years under the leadership of Jeff Dodd,” said Bob Jewell, managing partner of Andrews Kurth.

In December 2015, Colbert traveled to Texas and spent half a day in Andrews Kurth offices meeting with Jewell, Dodd and others, about whether a combination would make sense. Over the past eight months, the discussion grew more serious.

Jewell said the firm is not changing its name in Texas because some of his partners there, who aren’t intellectual property lawyers, are not as “familiar” with Kenyon, and wanted to keep their law firm name intact. Nonetheless, in a somewhat unusual arrangement, even in Texas, the firm’s IP and technology group will market itself under the new name.

Colbert declined to comment on whether there would be any layoffs of personnel as a result of the transaction but said his firm had been planning such a move for awhile as it slimmed down.

Last week, Law.com reported that the firms had merged, and noted Kenyon lawyers in Washington, D.C. were already moving in to the Andrews Kurth office. Colbert said that was only because his firm’s lease was set to expire this month and it made sense.

In New York, for instance, the firms do not expect to fully integrate their offices until 2018.

Prior to the hires, Andrews Kurth intellectual property group consisted of 33 lawyers, and it will now grow to 88 lawyers. Andrews Kurth partner Jeff Dodd will co-chair the firm’s intellectual property and technology practice with Colbert.

Dodd said the hires helps “catapult” the firm’s international profile: He noted his firm had offices in Dubai, Beijing and London. Kenyon only had offices in the U.S. — in New York, D.C. and Palo Alto — but boasted a number of clients such as Sony, Toyota and Lenovo in Asia and BAE Systems, Airbus and Volkswagen in Europe.

Jewell said the move also made sense given the larger market forces affecting law firms. “I think we’re all facing a legal market that’s flat in demand for services,” he said. “We must distinguish ourselves by providing high quality services to high quality clients that can justify the kind of rates that firms like ours like to get.”