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Recently Announced Law Firm Mergers Could Create Cascade of Lateral Moves

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Michael Allen, the Managing Principal of Lateral Link, who focuses exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

Merger season has arrived, yielding a fruitful harvest of potentially enormous mergers between Patton Boggs and Locke Lord and between Pillsbury and Orrick. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these mergers is the potentially “super” practice groups these mergers will make.

Patton Boggs has recently undergone a period of mild strife, as we detailed several months ago. Though they lost a significant number of energy and environmental attorneys after the fallout of the Chevron litigation, this merger with Locke Lord could be effective not only as a stopgap, but could also vastly strengthen each firm’s energy department….

The fallout from the Chevron litigation could have a tangible effect on the lateral moves to and from Patton Boggs. This merger could appease potential laterals who are weary of the significant movement at the firm, but most likely it will take some time and some closure in the Chevron case for Patton to see an increase in their lateral movement. With every merger there is a substantial number of partners and associates who leave — though not always because of the merger. Patton could lose a greater than average number if the attorneys at Locke Lord are not optimistic about Patton’s future. With both Kenneth Betts and Gina Betts departing Locke Lord for Patton Boggs just a month ago, would the merger create tension for the dynamic duo? However, the acquisition of David Patton would be a coup for Patton Boggs. David Patton co-chairs Locke Lord’s energy practice and handles mostly matters concerning oil and gas. This should help bolster Patton’s energy practice, which was decimated by a slew of lateral moves just a few months ago.

The potential major merger between Orrick and Pillsbury was perhaps the most unexpected of the three. Based in New York, Pillsbury has strong Intellectual Property, Corporate and Finance Departments. Orrick is renowned for their work with high-technology companies, representing them in various practices from Intellectual Property to Capital Markets. The merger of Orrick and Pillsbury would create an intriguingly strong transcontinental Finance — especially restructuring — practice, boasting major players such as Michael Schumaecker, William Bowers and C. Payson Coleman from Pillsbury, and Dolph Hellman, Alan Benjamin and Zachary Finley from Orrick.

Disclosure: This series is sponsored by Lateral Link, which is an ATL advertiser.


Lateral Link LLP is one of the largest legal recruiting agencies in the world, with 13 offices in the United States and Asia. Lateral Link has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer, the ABA Journal, the Daily Journal, and the National Law Journal for its innovative approach to legal placement. Lateral Link recruiters are former practicing attorneys who have consistently succeeded in placing partners, associates, general and corporate counsel into some of the most reputable law firms and organizations in the world.

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