In early December, we reported that K&L Gates was engaged in merger talks with Bell Boyd. Today, the firms made it official. An email just went out to K&L Gates associates from Peter Kalis:
We wrote you in December to announce that our firm and the Chicago-based law firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLP were in discussions with a view to combining the two firms. We are now pleased to report that the two firms’ partnerships have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the combination. I have appended below the news release that is being distributed to media outlets throughout the world. Please feel free to forward the release outside the firm to clients and other friends of the firm with your own message instead of mine. Thanks.
You can read the official press release after the jump.
Last month, we mentioned the possibility of a merger between the two firms. It now appears that it won’t be a complete merger, but a selective acquisition of certain lawyers (a la Sonnenschein’s absorption of Thacher Proffitt & Wood attorneys when TPW dissolved). As a result, Morgan & Finnegan lawyers who aren’t offered spots on the Locke Lord life raft will be out of jobs.
John Sweeney will become the deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s New York office, while James Gould will assume the role of co-head of the intellectual property department. At least 11 other Morgan & Finnegan partners will also be making the move. Joining Locke Lord as equity partners are Matthew Blackburn, William Feiler, Peter Fill, Harry Marcus, and Steven Meyer. Coming aboard as income partners are Seth Atlas, Robert Goethals, James Hwa, John Osborne, Richard Straussman, and Andrea Wayda.
Rumors of dissolution have been swirling around Morgan & Finnegan for quite some time. Back in August, the firm engaged in staff and attorney layoffs.
As for how the word got out, something rather strange happened on Friday. An email from an anonymous address was sent to a large number of M&F associates, attaching the Locke Lord offer letters to Sweeney and Gould (posted below — but you may have seen them already, since they were in wide circulation over the weekend, sent to us by multiple correspondents). From one source:
Morgan & Finnegan is dissolving on Monday. They are sending termination letters to everyone. Then, a number of those people will receive offer letters from Locke Lord (so it is not really an acquisition).
Not everyone will get offers. A large number of staff and attorneys will be laid off on Monday. Rumor has it around 70 people. Most first years, and some other associates. Pretty much all staff. LLBL just wants the lease and some of the partners….
Interesting that [Sweeney and Gould] are making off with $1+ million apiece at the cost of most of the jobs of their employees. Needless to say, most people are disgusted. John Sweeney is the person who has kept saying that people should not worry and the firm is fine. Now he is cutting his losses and running.
More discussion — plus links to the James Gould and John Sweeney offer letters, which are an interesting read, especially if you don’t know what a lateral-partner offer letter looks like — after the jump.
Locke Liddell is acquiring Morgan & Finengan. Don’t think it’s final yet.
Tipsters from both firms have heard the news, but obviously nothing has been finalized. Firm spokespeople could not be reached for immediate comment over the holidays.
Both firms appear to have been prudent during the economic crisis. We reported that Morgan & Finnegan lost a number of partners over the summer, while Locke Lord no-offered more than half of their summer associates. But we haven’t received any reports of wide scale associate layoffs at either firm.
That could change if this merger goes through. A tipster reports:
Rumor has it that Lock Liddell will be laying off a number of Morgan & Finnegan lawyers as part of the merger.
Is this a gift that Locke Lord will cherish? Or is it one that Morgan & Finnegan will want to take back to the store? We’ll keep you posted.
Atlanta-based King & Spalding is in talks to acquire most, but not all of Thacher Proffitt & Wood’s lawyers, say two sources aware of the discussions. In order to avoid dissolution, New York-based Thacher hopes to find a partner to acquire it, these sources say.
One New York legal consultant says the discussions have been ongoing for the past three to four months, and that the firms hope to reach an agreement by year-end. The consultant says King & Spalding is considering taking on about 100 of Thacher’s 195 lawyers, but that it’s not yet clear which practices and offices the 100 lawyers would come from. “There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty about who’s going to be invited to the party,” says the consultant, who asked not to be named.
Not sure we’d call it a “party.” But the alternative to a K&S acquisition isn’t appealing:
[Thacher's] overall headcount is down more than 100 lawyers compared to last year — and so are its profits. Profits per partner fell more than 22 percent in 2007 to $1.02 million, according to the Am Law 200.
The firm has had a constant stream of high-profile departures, including its vice chairman Thomas Leslie, who decamped for Greenberg Traurig in October, and Washington managing partner Richard Schaberg, who left for Hogan & Hartson’s D.C. office last month. The New York consultant and another individual familiar with the discussions say that if the deal falls through, Thacher Proffitt will likely go under.
It’s worth noting that TPW has placed its New York headquarters up for sublease (as reported by Lindsay Fortado and David Levitt of Bloomberg). If TPW is seeking a subtenant for all five floors it leases at Two World Financial Center, then one has to wonder if the firm plans to continue operations (at least in its current form).
As for King & Spalding, it’s growing strategically, despite the downturn. The firm recently snagged three energy partners from Kirkland & Ellis. KS hopefully has room in the lifeboat for Thacherites seeking a new home.
The spin that Powell Goldstein chairman James McAlpin always wanted was finally released in today’s Fulton County Daily Report (subscription). The official announcement blurs the lines between a “merger” between Bryan Cave and PoGo and an acquisition of PoGo by Bryan Cave, but the report is largely positive:
“This is a transformational event for us,” said Powell Goldstein’s chairman, James J. McAlpin Jr. “It propels us into a different league.”
PoGo gives up its name in the deal and cedes leadership to the St. Louis firm. (The firm will be Bryan Cave-Powell Goldstein for two years in Atlanta and simply Bryan Cave elsewhere.) In return, PoGo’s lawyers gain an international and national platform that expands the depth and breadth of their practice groups–increasing the firm’s resources in areas such as intellectual property and broadening its core areas of banking, finance, real estate and litigation.
Getting swallowed up by a much larger firm and losing a 100-year old name certainly has all the bells and whistles of an acquisition, but partners on both sides characterize the deal as a “combination.”
Some Bryan Cave partners, like their partners-to-be from PoGo, prefer to characterize the deal as a combination, not an acquisition–even though their firm will absorb the smaller one.
“It’s a combination, not a slash-and-burn acquisition,” said Kenneth L. Henderson, the Bryan Cave partner who’s overseeing the integration. Henderson was a member of the 170-lawyer New York firm Robinson Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn & Berman that Bryan Cave acquired six years ago in its last major acquisition.
Whatever it’s called, PoGo associates really only care about their future job security. More on that after the jump.
We reported earlier that Powell Goldstein is set to be acquired by Bryan Cave. We’ve been told to expect an official announcement from Bryan Cave on Monday.
PoGo has still not directly responded to ATL about the rumors that a number of associates, staff, and partners could be on their way out of the door. But we understand that they have sent around an internal email addressing some concerns in light of the merger information. A tipster tells us that the email offered the following clarifications:
1) Everyone has a job. This is a specific term of the deal.
2) BC wants to expand the Atlanta office. …
3) We have no problems at all with our finances. Credit is strong, bank relationships are strong, etc.
We have not gotten our hands on the merger agreement between PoGo and Bryan Cave. But the “promise” that every job is secured is encouraging. The email does not speak to our previous reporting that PoGo’s banks threatened to pull their credit line if a merger was not reached. But regardless of what could have happened, the firm’s contention that they are in a strong financial position is certainly worth noting.
Heller Ehrman and Thelen dissolved after big time mergers fell through. While our readers have been speculating on the next capitulation to the financial crisis, it seems that Powell Goldstein has narrowly avoided a full scale dissolution thanks to Bryan Cave. A tipster reports:
Powell Goldstein, which has been an prominent firm in Atlanta since 1909, will no longer exist next week. PoGo partners voted last week to approve an acquisition by Bryan Cave, and BC will announce the acquisition on Monday.
Bryan Cave did not return multiple calls requesting comment on the story. Meanwhile, a PoGo spokesperson said “I have nothing to report” when asked about the acquisition.
As we understand it, the union between Bryan Cave and PoGo is not a “merger” so much as it is a buy-out. Additional tipsters have reported that nobody from PoGo — not staff, not associates, not even partners — is safe. Equity partners could be let go early next week.
We mentioned that litigation boutiques would likely be big winners from the market collapse. Some small firms are already cashing in. The bankruptcy boutique of Luskin, Stern & Eisler has merged with Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
There was enough room on the Hughes Hubbard bandwagon for everybody at Luskin. All eight lawyers will be joining Hughes Hubbard’s bankruptcy practice, with name partner Richard Stern becoming the co-chair of the group.
The merger makes perfect sense if Hughes Hubbard is trying to position itself to capitalize on creditor actions coming out of the Wall Street meltdown. Of course, that is not what Hughes Hubbard says they are doing:
Hughes Hubbard says it is merely a coincidence that the deal was finalized after a week of heavy financial turmoil.
“We had wanted to do this for a while,” James Modlin, co-chair of the firm’s lateral hiring committee, tells The Am Law Daily. “Starting last summer, we realized the time was right to bolster our bankruptcy practice. Bankruptcy goes in cycles, and we were thinking this might be a boom time.”
Maybe Hughes Hubbard does own the world’s best Magic 8 Ball. However they planned this acquisition, they got the execution exactly right.
What does it mean to be “newly admitted?” To us, it means endless possibilities!
We recognize that you already possess the ability and intelligence to succeed in a variety of legal professions. Our job is to expose you to various practice areas in a way that ensures those very attributes are successfully applied. Our seasoned and successful faculty present unique programs that provide an approachable and practical understanding of the avenues of achievement available as you launch a fruitful, enjoyable and promising career.
Our Live Bridge the Gap weekends satisfy the entire year of New York Newly-Admitted CLE Credits in only two days!
After physically attending a full weekend, you will receive:
• 3.0 Ethics CLE credits,
• 6.0 Skills CLE credits, and
• 7.0 Professional Practice and/or Law Practice Management CLE credits
Date: Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, 2013 Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:35 p.m. (EST) Location:
55 Exchange Place
New York, NY 10006
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!