Law Firm Mergers

* Elie here: Remember yesterday when I said that it was a prick move by the cop to issue that ticket on the mother of that comatose 13-year-old girl, and then all those commenters said the cops had no choice because issuing the ticket was an important matter in terms of the civil liability of the driver? Yeah, well, I stand by my initial analysis that the cop was a jerkhat. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* We were unimpressed by Holland & Knight giving iPads to its associates — and we’re not alone. [South Florida Lawyers]

* The merger talks between Reed Smith and Thompson & Knight are apparently off (assuming this isn’t another case of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton). [Am Law Daily]

* How can lawyers dress to impress in 2011? [Lawyerist]

* So let me get this straight, it’s not okay for me to drink Four Loko and drive, but it’s okay for my car to do it? What’s up with that? [Alt Transport]

* Were passports biased against gays? Well, now they won’t be. [Huffington Post]

* If you’ve been following along with the most important news of today — which is obviously that the study showing that a crying woman is a total buzzkill — here’s an important counterpoint. Crying might be nature’s way of saying: “Stop beating on your wife you freaking a**hole. [Newsweek]

Yesterday we reported on a change in management at Nixon Peabody. We understand that some people at Nixon hope that the shift at the top will be followed by a return to Nixon Peabody’s old law firm culture.

But maybe NP people will have to get ready to assimilate into an entirely different culture? A well-placed tipster reports that some Locke Lord partners were told that the firm is exploring a possible merger with Nixon Peabody.

Locke Lord denies the rumor, while Nixon Peabody won’t comment. But our sources have been right before, especially when it comes to potential mergers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: Would a Nixon Peabody/Locke Lord Merger Make Sense?”

Bridget Jones found herself a super-fit Brit, but Proskauer is still looking for a U.K. mate.

In 2011, lawyers at Proskauer Rose will enjoy snazzy, firm-provided iPads. But they won’t be able to look forward to an influx of British colleagues with super-posh accents.

As reported by Legal Week, Proskauer and SJ Berwin have called off their merger talks, after nine long months of discussions. The extensive snogging will not culminate in shagging.

This year has seen lots of action on the transatlantic merger front — e.g., Hogan Lovells, SNR Denton, and Squire Sanders Hammonds. But it looks like Proskauer Berwin — or Berwin Proskauer, or SJ Proskauer? — will not be coming to pass.

(Unless the firms pull a Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton or a Newsweek Daily Beast, and merge with each other anyway after declaring their talks dead.)

So what led to the demise of the Proskauer / SJ Berwin merger talks?

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Peter Crossley of Hammonds and James Maiwurm of Squire Sanders

A hot trend for the law firm world in 2010: transatlantic mergers. This year we’ve seen the creation of Hogan Lovells, from Hogan & Hartson and Lovells, and SNR Denton, from Sonnenschein and Denton Wilde. Today we learn of a third U.S./U.K. law firm merger: the combination of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and the British firm of Hammonds, to form a behemoth with 1,275 lawyers in 37 offices and 17 countries (according to the merged firm’s new website).

The merger was approved by both partnerships over the weekend and will take effect on January 1, 2011. The combined entity will be in the top 25 firms by number of lawyers, with gross revenue of $625 million (based on 2009 figures).

As you may recall, not everyone was a fan of this merger. The famously outspoken John Quinn of Quinn Emanuel, for example, characterized it as “[t]wo rocks that think if they hug each other tight enough they won’t sink.”

But enough of the Debbie Downer sentiments. Let’s look at all the positive aspects of this transaction, shall we?

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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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Merger Mania: Kilpatrick Stockton Merges with Townsend and Townsend and Crew”

Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, Biglaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.

Despite this being the busy season for the hiring and (in the few firms that cling to the traditional calendar) onboarding processes, things have been relatively quiet lately. Actually, we almost forgot about deferred associates – some of the members of the "lost" Class of 2009 are finally starting to trickle back to BigLaw.

Bimodal distribution is still the bugaboo of the legal industry. In the BigLaw section of the curve (i.e., that big spike out to the right), the good news for incoming associates is that $160,000 is still the norm for the largest firms in the top markets, despite some drift back to the left over the past few years as firms dropped down to $145,000. Don’t expect to hear cries of "NY to 180k" for at least a little while yet, even though the official word is that the recession ended in June 2009 (which coincides closely with the end of the peak of law firm layoffs). Flat is still the new up, and most of 21 managing partners who did an impromptu straw poll are optimistic.

Those salaries have to be supported by income, though. And no place beats New York for billable rates.

Unless you count the entertainment industry. Then, $900/hour is a bargain compared to the traditional commission-based structure for literary agents.

After the jump, we focus exclusively on the firms this week. No client work – we’ve got rankings, mergers, laterals, and, of course, layoffs.

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It’s like picking up a whole baseball team just to get a shortstop.

– an anonymous partner at Akin Gump, commenting on the failed merger talks with Orrick.

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?

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* Orrick and Akin aren’t the only two who are talking. The firms of Reed Smith and Thompson & Knight are also in merger discussions. [Am Law Daily]

* A “cite-checking battle” actually sounds… kinda fun. [Laws for Attorneys]

* There’s a motion for leave to amend the complaint in the Robert Wone civil case. [Who Murdered Robert Wone?]

* Why your job is making you depressed. Maybe because it sucks? [CNN]

* Women of Biglaw: think you have it bad? Your sisters on Wall Street may be even worse off. [The Careerist]

* Speaking of women in the legal profession, nominations are now being accepted for InsideCounsel’s Transformative Leadership Awards, which “honor women general counsel and law firm partners who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the empowerment of women in corporate law.” [SuperConference]

Yesterday we discussed the merger talks that are currently taking place between Akin Gump and Orrick. We solicited your views on a possible combination, and we received some interesting feedback (in the comments and by other means).

Let’s start with the happy stuff. Here are some positive takes on an Orrick / Akin merger, from the comments (yes, positivity in the comments — it happens):

  • “I have been at both firms and I believe it would be a good fit both geographically and practice-wise. Orrick is almost all about finance, and finance is one key area that Akin lacks real depth.” [FN1]

  • “#1 Vacuum company in America + #1 brand of cocktail shrimp = unstoppable legal force.”

But it’s not all vacuums and cocktail shrimp, sunshine and puppies. Insiders with knowledge of both firms also identified downsides to a possible Orrick / Akin merger….

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