Well, that was fast. Last week we learned of preliminary merger discussions taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. But this morning, spokespersons for each firm released the following joint statement (which differed only in which firm’s name came first):
[The firms] have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed.
For an assessment of the pros and cons of an Akin / Orrick union, see here.
So what exactly happened here?
UPDATE: What appears below was added to this post after its original publication at 10:38 AM.
Word on the street is that the merger talks have actually been going on for weeks, if not months, even though they only came to light last week. Some have wondered whether news of the talks might have been leaked in an attempt to try and scuttle a possible merger. If so, perhaps the strategy worked — or perhaps the talks just ran their natural course.
As noted previously, this is not Orrick’s first flirtation with a Biglaw suitor. For a history of the firm’s past merger attempts, see this Am Law Daily post, by Zach Lowe. In another Am Law Daily post, from this morning, Chris Johnson opined: “As it continues to flit from one target to the next, Orrick is already starting to look a bit fickle. One might even say that it’s starting to look a little desperate.”
This view may exist inside as well as outside Orrick. One Orrick partner we spoke with last week complained about Ralph Baxter’s “merger mania” and wondered why the firm was so aggressively pursuing a merger given the state of the economy. This partner was of the opinion that Orrick should focus on getting its own house in order instead of trying to look externally.
“There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with Ralph right now,” said the partner. “In good times, people overlook a lot of stuff. But right now there’s not enough gravy to cover the bad meat.”
If you have additional information about why the merger talks concluded, feel free to reach out to us.