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McGuireWoods LLP and Helms Mulliss & Wicker PLLC are joining forces in a merger that will create a law firm with nearly 900 lawyers and offices in 17 locations.

The combined firm will be known as McGuireWoods LLP. The merger will be effective at the close of business on March 31, 2008.

McGuireWoods currently has 750 lawyers at 15 locations worldwide, including 40 in Charlotte. Helms Mulliss, established in Charlotte in 1922, has 145 lawyers, including 120 in Charlotte and 25 in offices in Raleigh and Wilmington.

Triangle Business Journal reported in January that Charlotte-based Helms Mulliss & Wicker was in merger talks with Richmond, Va.-based McGuireWoods. Firms with a strong Charlotte presence often are courted by out-of-state firms interested in the city's high-powered financial sector.

Both firms do business with Wachovia and Bank of America. But Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods, says that the merger was driven by more than just obtaining additional banking business.

"It would be wrong to assume we're doing this merger because of any one city in North Carolina or any one client," says Cullen. "We're very eager to be in Raleigh. We're planning on growing that office."

Cullen declined to go into specifics about how many people might be added over the coming years in the Raleigh office, which currently has 20 lawyers.

After the merger, Peter Covington, the chairman and managing member of Helms Mulliss, will become vice chairman of McGuireWoods, a newly created position.



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