Biglaw, Law Firm Mergers, Townsend and Townsend and Crew

Law Firm Merger Mania: Kilpatrick Stockton Merges with Townsend and Townsend and Crew

Remember back in May when we told you that Kilpatrick Stockton was in merger talks with Townsend and Townsend and Crew? But we had to say they “might” be in talks because nobody would go on the record confirming them? Then in July we told you that they definitely had been in talks, but the firms said: no, no, no, those talks have fallen apart?

Well, here we are in November and, surprise, Kilpatrick Stockton is merging with Townsend and Townsend and Crew.

The lesson: you can believe Above the Law or you can believe the double-speak nonsense coming out of the mouths of firm leaders…

According to the press release, the new firm will be called Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Way to go, Mr. Stockton, for hanging on and beating out Mr. Crew at the end there. But I’m going to miss the totally necessary uses of the word “and” as this new firm rolls with the more elegant ampersand.

In terms of the reason for the merger, here’s what the press release says:

“The merger combines the experience of some of the nation’s preeminent attorneys representing a who’s who of corporate clients across an extensive range of industries,” said Bill Dorris, Chair of Kilpatrick Townsend. “From intellectual property to corporate to litigation, Kilpatrick Townsend clients will have access to a diverse group of nearly 650 attorneys with the resources to offer clients expanded, strategic expertise.”

But since we all know how much to trust press releases from Kilpatrick and Townsend, let’s take a look at what commenters said about the match back when it allegedly fell apart over the summer:

TTC has been riding on it’s reputation from the ’90s when it truly had the best prosecution in Silicon Valley – by far – and in the world for certain specialized areas. That is no longer the case today. Townsend has declined and has become run-of-the-mill at best in most practice groups, and the caliber of prosecution in other firms in Silicon Valley has increased (often with ex-TTC attorneys).

Here’s a similar comment:

Townsend is a slow motion version of Darby & Darby. Life sciences and Liebeschuetz my ass, the only thing that keeps Townsend afloat is Rob Colwell’s electronics practice and Jim Heslin’s medical device practice. Litigation sucks (since Furniss died there is no reason to use Townsend for IP litigation) and biotech prosecution is dying on the vine at TTC.

But Townsend does have its champions in the comments:

Townsend has the best patent prosecution team in Silicon Valley. There is noone remotely close to the breadth and depth of that team. If they refocus and restructure around this core strength, incentivize the prosecutors to sell other services (lit., lic., etc…), make some cuts where needed, aggresively bring down overhead to make the prosecutors more profitable, and fully leverage their client contacts, they will do great. There is nothing wrong with the boutique model, especially when you have a team that good. Best wishes TTC.

– A TTC (make that, “townsend.”) Alum.

You see where this is going. Whether or not this merger benefits Kilpatrick will heavily depend on the value of Townsend’s patent prosecution practice.

For Townsend, it’s entirely possible that the firm was looking for a lifeboat. It’s been a challenging business environment for boutique-esque IP firms over the past 20 months. Not merging with Kilpatrick might have been disastrous for the firm.

Let’s hope things work out well for both firms. The merger market definitely heated up in 2010, and that’s a much better sign for the legal economy than the dissolutions we saw in 2009.

After Initial Denial, Two Midsize Law Firms Announce Merger [ABA Journal]
Kilpatrick Stockton, Townsend and Townsend to Merge [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania? Townsend and Kilpatrick Might Be in Talks; Hogan Lovells Officially Debuts
Law Firm Merger Mania: Townsend and Kilpatrick Kill Talks

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