law firm merger small.jpgEarlier this month, we mentioned that Hogan & Hartson and London-based Lovells were in “early stages of merger talks.”
Today brings the news that the firms are in “advanced talks to merge,” according to Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal. But it’s not a done deal yet:

One of the biggest challenges to a Hogan/Lovells deal, lawyers say, will be marrying the firm’s contrasting styles. Hogan is considered relatively hard charging, paying partners based on how much business they bring in. Lovells take a more genteel approach, compensating partners based largely on their seniority.

UPDATE: Bruce MacEwen, who thinks that “this deal makes superb sense,” has a detailed analysis over at Adam Smith, Esq. (gavel bang: commenter).
A memo from Hogan head Warren Gorrell, plus selected comments from our prior post — we read the comments, so you don’t have to! — after the jump.


The following internal memo was posted as comment 59:

To: All Associates and Support Staff
From: Warren Gorrell
Date: October 8, 2009
Re: Press Reports

Over the past several months, we have been exploring various strategic opportunities that the firm might pursue, including some discussions with a small number of other firms. By their very nature these discussions have been kept confidential.

We have just learned that reports of ongoing discussions have reached the press and there will be an article in a London-based publication, Legal Week, speculating on what we are doing and linking us to London-based firm Lovells. There also may be an article in The American Lawyer since they are affiliated with Legal Week.

Until we have something definitive to say, we are not going to comment further since our discussions may not result in anything concrete happening. If the situation changes and there is a significant development to report, I will let you know.

The memo basically confirms the talks but doesn’t say a heck of a lot. More revealing are some of the comments from our earlier post. Some of them expressed support for the merger, while others — perhaps the majority — sounded more pessimistic notes.
Please note that these represent the opinions of the commenters; your editors have not verified them independently. So take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

12 – Bad idea. Bad, bad idea. These two firms have nothing in common. Any merger will decrease efficiency rather than increase it. And if they’re thinking about diversifying, is NOW the time to do it? Diversifying in boom times = good because you’re preparing for bust times. Diversifying in bust times = retarded because, while you may be getting a “deal,” you’re getting a deal on what is predominantly crap.
19 – Well, I guess this possible merger explains why Hogan & Hartson has been firing people across the firm under the guise of “performance reviews.” They are such an elite law firm that they have never, never in their entire history laid off attorneys (yes, this line is something they like to toot their horn about).
Hogan is trying to make Lovells believe their numbers are strong. Why in the world Lovells would want anything to do with Hogan & Hartson is beyond me – the firm is a dog with fleas. That will be Lovells’ undoing if they move forward.
35 – Lovells has tried over the past four years to really expand in the US. It hasn’t worked. Now I guess they’re forced to try to pick up a US practice to get some work. Good luck.
50 – I don’t believe this merger will ever go through, but if it did, I think it could be a positive step for both firms. Seems like many of the legal mags are saying the same.
54- The Lovells associates in the NY office are hoping this merger goes through. We joined Lovells from other firms because we were willing to forego our bonuses in order to work fewer hours. Now we specialize in working on non-billable marketing matters that go nowhere. We are on call 24/7 for non- billiable work. We have no chance of ever making partner as the pyramid is already full at the top. Partners come here with no business expecting lots of referrals from the European offices, but that doesn’t happen.

We’ll keep you posted. If you have info or insight to share about a possible Lovells / Hogan combination, feel free to email us.
Hogan & Hartson, Lovells, Closing In On Merger [WSJ Law Blog]
Hogan & Hartson/Lovells? [Adam Smith, Esq.]
Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Lovells ‘Hearts’ Hogan & Hartson


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