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BRANDING NEWS: Richards Butler brand to disappear following merger with Reed Smith

UK-based law firm Richards Butler is set to lose its brand identity following a proposed merger with US-based law firm Reed Smith.

Once merged, it is predicted that the 1300 lawyer-strong firm will own global revenues of approximately £415 million and become one of the top 20 law firms in London.

The merged company is to be globally called Reed Smith, although it will initially trade under the name Reed Smith Richards Butler in the UK, in order to maintain continuity.

PR, a DM campaign and some selected advertising will be used to raise brand awareness in an unspecified timeframe.

The companies announced their letter of intent to merge on April 5; the full merge of the practices should take place by 1 January 2007.

Meirion Jones, director of clients & markets at Richards Butler, comments, "In the UK, Richards Butler are well-established; it therefore makes sense to preserve the residual Richards Butler identity. The name issue is being carried out to ensure client contact and brand continuity throughout the transition period."

However, the loss of branding and corporate identity is commonplace in the legal services sector. Chris Heinz, joint chair of the Professional Services Marketing Group, comments: "This loss of corporate identity is not uncommon. Reed Smith merged with English law firm Warner Cranston, upon which the firm was known as Reed Smith Warner Cranston. However, the firm is currently known as Reed Smith - this same technique is set to be used in the case of Richards Butler."

Consolidation within the legal market has been an ongoing trend experienced over the last 15 years, although the sector has not experienced it to the same extent as other industries. Industries such as finance have seen far more consolidation.

The decision to merge has been proposed for the purpose of enhancing international opportunities - it would strengthen the London base for proposed expansion into Europe and the Middle and Far East.

 

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