Biglaw, Law Firm Mergers

Law Firm Merger Mania: Fulbright and Pillsbury Are Talking

The last we heard from Fulbright & Jaworski and Pillsbury Winthrop, the former was busy conducting staff layoffs, and the latter was exploring on-shore outsourcing options. Today, we have bigger and more exciting news: the two Biglaw firms may be headed to the altar.

What would a combined firm look like? Fulbright has approximately 900 lawyers, while Pillsbury has a little under 700 lawyers. If the rumors are true, then we could be looking at a gigantic, global mega-firm — a veritable army of lawyers marching at roughly 1,600 strong.

But what stage are the firms’ merger discussions in? Is this a sure thing?

At this point, it looks like this could be the real deal. Casey Sullivan of the Daily Journal (sub. req.) reports:

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is said to be in merger discussions with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, according to three sources working closely with lawyers at the firm.

One source said the discussions are far enough down the line that both firms have made an agreement not to poach lawyers from each other for a certain period of time, which typically happens after financial information is exchanged.

You know that it’s serious when the firms have vowed to cease all partner poaching, the NKI du jour.

Let’s do some math: Fulbright currently boasts 17 international offices, while Pillsbury has 15. Will all of these offices remain intact post-merger? According to the Daily Journal’s sources, lawyers would be spread “throughout 25 to 30 offices.” We hope those estimates just represent an increase in attorneys per office, because we’d hate to see any additional layoffs take place.

Pillsbury has reportedly entertained notions of mergers with other firms in recent years, but this is the most serious thus far. When asked to comment on the rumored merger with Fulbright, James M. Rishwain Jr., Pillsbury’s chairman, declined.

Readers: any thoughts on a possible merger between Fulbright and Pillsbury? Do you see it as a promising union? Or do you take a dimmer view?

Feel free to discuss in the comments. If you have particularly juicy tidbits (you must if you’ve been riding the Acela), please send them to us directly via email or text (646-820-8477). Thanks.

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