King & Spalding has long been associated with the Atlanta, Georgia market and is in some circles considered the premier firm in that city. King & Spalding represents some of the most notable Fortune 500 companies in the South, boasting long term relationships with institutional clientele. King & Spalding would have most certainly been able to sustain its history of profitability in Atlanta alone, or could have extended its stronghold in the Southern legal market. However, King & Spalding, with a bold goal of acquisition, has now established itself in some of the largest legal marketplaces in the world, including New York, Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas in a relatively short amount of time. Since beginning its expansion outside of the Atlanta market over ten years ago, King & Spalding has grown to over 700 lawyers and is now ranking among the nation's top 50 law firms.
In fact, King & Spalding has brought the acquisition of partners and practice groups to a virtual art form. When staffing their Houston office, King & Spalding acquired a corporate partner, which made national headlines and was featured prominently in the press. Attracting the major players from competing firms, or even from firms whose presence in a particular city far predates that of King & Spalding, has been one of the keys to King & Spalding's substantial but conservative growth. In New York and Washington, D.C., growth has followed the same general pattern, involving acquisitions of practice groups from partners. This technique has been highly successful. Not only does King & Spalding remain a highly profitable firm (including having a remarkably busy corporate department throughout the recessionary economy), it has earned a great deal of respect in cities that have not historically been easy for new firms to penetrate.
One upcoming expansion plan for the firm disbands the growth by acquisition mode, however, as King & Spalding is scheduled to open a London office in January 2003. At this time, the office will be staffed by existing attorneys from King & Spalding. Citing clientele with increasing international business concerns abroad, some of King & Spalding's lawyers will be venturing "across the pond" to facilitate representation of existing clients, mostly on a transactional basis. International law may just be the new emphasis for King & Spalding, which currently boasts an impressive Latin American group, as well as a cross-border German practice based in New York.
Regardless of the way in which King & Spalding chooses to chart its future growth, it is clear to date that the firm boasts a relatively low attrition rate among partners. Partners departing the firm often do so for high level government positions, such as in the Department of Justice, and are not typically leaving the firm to join a rival. Although the reasons these high profile partners refuse to be lured away to competitors almost certainly depends on each individual, King & Spalding has proven an overall commitment to attracting and keeping talented and profitable partners at the highest level. This will almost certainly guarantee continued success for the firm in the future.
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