Biglaw, Law Firm Mergers, Partner Issues, Patton Boggs

Has Patton Boggs Found A Savior?

Who is the white knight of Patton Boggs?

When we last checked in with the beleaguered law firm of Patton Boggs, things were looking… dicey. The firm was losing more partners — some due to layoffs, some due to defections — and firm leaders were suspending their partnership draws (and asking their fellow partners to do the same; yikes).

But today we actually have some positive news to share about Patton Boggs. Here comes the cavalry!

Which major law firm just signed a letter of intent with Patton Boggs regarding a possible merger?

It’s Squire Sanders — a firm that has been talking to Patton Boggs for a while now. Here’s a report from Reuters:

The embattled Washington law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs has signed a letter of intent to merge with the larger Squire Sanders, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Patton Boggs leaders projected that any deal would take place before the end of April, two of the sources said.

A letter of intent was signed earlier in March to formalize the two firms’ commitment to advancing merger talks, said the sources, who did not want to be named because they are close to the firm.

The letter “doesn’t guarantee anything, just that they are moving forward at a very rapid speed,” said one former Patton Boggs lawyer. “They’re on the verge of a merger.”

This represents definite progress. In late February, the two firms described their talks as in the “early stages.” Now, just a month later, they’ve reached the heavy-petting phase.

Given Patton Boggs’s position of weakness, it will probably do anything and everything to get into bed with Squire Sanders. We agree with what Bruce MacEwen told Reuters: “If this merger doesn’t transpire, for whatever reason, the odds are extremely high that [Patton Boggs] will split to the four winds.”

If this “merger” does happen, it will probably look more like an “acquisition” of Patton Boggs by Squire Sanders — a la Bingham McCutchen’s absorption of McKee Nelson, or Arnold & Porter’s swallowing Howard Rice. Note that Patton Boggs has about 380 lawyers, a number that seems to decline by the day, while Squire Sanders is 1,300 lawyers strong.

So don’t expect Squire Sanders to change its name if it picks up Patton Boggs. Which is too bad, because we haven’t seen a name as awesome as “Squire Boggs” since the days of “Boss Hogg.”

Merger talks heat up between law firms Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders [Reuters]

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Partners In Peril At Patton Boggs

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