International law firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) will merge with Texas-based energy and marine firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown in January next year.

The merger gives HFW its first on-the-ground office in the US, which, according to HFW’s global senior partner Richard Crump, has been “a goal for some time”.

The merged firm will retain the HFW name.

The move follows successful collaboration between the two firms on several cross-jurisdictional client projects in the energy and marine markets.

For HFW, the merger creates opportunities to expand its client base and develop business elsewhere in the US and throughout the Americas. For Legge Farrow, it provides its clients with the benefits of access to HFW’s established international network of 16 offices in South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

“Houston is an important geographical market for HFW and its clients, being a key touchpoint for several of the firm’s chosen sectors – energy, marine and aviation in particular,” reads a statement by the firm.

GTR understands that while Legge Farrow currently has no trade finance focus, this is a capability that may be built over time.

The Texan firm numbers eight partners and nine associates. The merger will bring the total headcount at HFW to 170 partners, 450 lawyers plus other fee earners and staff totalling 915.

Glenn Legge, one of the founding partners of Legge Farrow, comments on the move: “We are extremely pleased to be formalising our longstanding relationship with HFW. We are very similar in terms of culture and providing pragmatic, cost-effective services. Further, we both value the importance of in-depth sector knowledge.”