Law Firm Merger Mania

Not so fast, Canellas…

* Yeah, about that huge bonus we were going to pay our ex-finance director — we realized how silly that was, so we’re not going to do that. Aww, don’t worry, Dewey & LeBoeuf, you’ll have plenty of other chances to look absurd. [Am Law Daily]

* Not only is Samsung suing Apple for patent infringement, but the company is also trying to get a do over by getting Judge Lucy Koh to throw out the original billion-dollar verdict over jury foreman Velvin Hogan’s alleged misconduct. [Bloomberg]

* “Small deals are easier to swallow, easier to integrate.” Regional firms like Carlton Fields and Adams and Reese are gobbling up smaller firms in what seems to be the latest trend in law firm merger mania activity. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Douglas Arntsen, the former Crowell & Moring associate who had to be extradited from Hong Kong after embezzling $10.7M from clients, pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. [New York Law Journal]

* It’s tough to come up with appropriate whistleblower jokes given the background here. We’ll play it straight: Mike McQueary filed a defamation suit against Penn State, and he’s seeking $4M in damages. [ABC News]

* Jose Godinez-Samperio, an undocumented immigrant, is fighting for the ability to practice law in Florida, but the members of the state Supreme Court are literally trying to make it into a “federal case.” [Washington Post]

An ethical duty?

* Are you ready for some Supreme gossip? In remarks delivered at Colorado Law, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Defense of Marriage Act would be argued “toward the end of the current term.” [CBS News]

* Dewey’s version of trying to curry favor for the proposed $72M partner settlement? Filing a deposition transcript noting that others could’ve also been blamed for D&L’s downfall, but weren’t due to time constraints. Gee, thanks. [Am Law Daily]

* Novak Druce + Quigg and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz will merge to form Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg, the 7th largest IP firm in the U.S. Guess seven name partners was a bit much. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Michael McShane was nominated by President Obama to fill a judgeship in Oregon. If confirmed, he’d be one of the few openly gay judges on the federal bench, which, of course, would be fabulous. [Oregonian]

* The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession wants the ABA to amend the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include a duty to promote diversity. Because we clearly need a rule on that. [National Law Journal]

* Cindy Garcia, an actress from “Innocence of Muslims,” is suing, claiming that she was duped into the role under false pretenses. She wants the film removed from YouTube. Everyone else does, too, lady. [Bloomberg]

* A judge refused to issue an injunction against the California ban on foie gras, instead allowing a suit on the same topic to move forward. Oh mon dieu, judge, think of all the poor Francophiles! [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Joshua Morse III, former dean of Mississippi Law who defied segregation, RIP. [New York Times]

Kim Kardashian

* Apparently spring bonuses don’t make the Biglaw world go ’round after all. The annual Am Law midlevel survey is out, and satisfaction levels are up across the board. Maybe they’re happy to still be employed. [American Lawyer]

* When Dewey get to retire this used up, old D&L pun? Probably around the same time as that Howrey joke — never. Oh, and the firm asked a bankruptcy judge to approve its $70M partner “clawback” plan. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Oh mon dieu, it’s time for some law firm merger mania! DLA Piper, the second-largest Biglaw behemoth, proposed to French firm Frieh Bouhenic, and of course, the corporate boutique said “oui.” [Legal Week]

* Judicial efficiency: Judge Robert Hinkle says he’ll block Florida’s regulations on voter registration groups just as soon as an appeals court boots the state’s arguments. [Bloomberg]

* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. will step down as judge in the George Zimmerman case after using “disparaging” language in a bail order. Zimmerman’s probably hoping that the third judge will be the charm for him. [CNN]

* Kim Kardashian settled her suit against The Gap over the company’s use of a look-alike actress in an Old Navy commercial. Sigh. She’ll keep getting paid, no matter what we do. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

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?

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* Nikki Finke, the Deadline.com diva, disses Debevoise. [Am Law Daily]

* This kind of friendly fun between opposing counsel would surely warm Jay Shepherd’s heart. [The Namby Pamby]

* This opinion describes a murder gory enough to turn the stomach of Bruce Reilly (aka the Tulane 1L Murderer). [You Shall Never Know Security]

* A new national poll on same-sex marriage shows that… Americans aren’t very good at answering poll questions. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* I definitely live it up when in Las Vegas, but even I have a hard time fathoming a $20,000 hotel bill. [Deadspin]

* Law Firm Merger Mania: Fulbright & Jaworski + Norton Rose? [Legal Week via ABA Journal]

* Good luck to S.D.N.Y. nominee Jesse Furman (who’s a talented attorney and a great guy, and who edited my case note once upon a time). [National Law Journal]

* An interesting issue: “In free speech vs. privilege battle, who wins?” [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* If we didn’t waste spend this much money on litigation, wouldn’t there be even more unemployed lawyers? [eLocalLawyers]

Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?

What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.

In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.

What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?

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I'm pretty sure this was the only child to die under suspicious circumstances in the past three years.

* Caylee’s Law would make it a felony for anybody to grieve for their child in any way that doesn’t involve law enforcement within the hour. I trust the libertarian crowd is going to help me point out how this is dumb. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Big time antitrust lawyer Christine A. Varney is leaving the Justice Department and heading to Cravath (perhaps as a replacement of sorts for Katherine Forrest). So it looks like there was some money left over after spring bonuses for Cravath to make a new hire. Phew. [Dealbook]

* Eliot Spitzer (f.k.a. the steamroller) just got flattened by Erin Burnett. [Dealbreaker]

* Even judges in Flori-duh are allegedly bats**t crazy. [Obscure Store]

* In more reasonable news coming out of Florida, this reminds me of the “mock trial” club in high school. [Miami New Times]

* Courtesy of NALP, here’s more evidence that the class of 2010 is totally screwed. You know, I wish I could have the entire class over to my house for a big pity party. We could all hang out and play Rock Band, and at the end everybody could have a cup of my delicious homemade Kool-Aid. [NALP]

* Chicago law firm merger mania? I just hope nothing messes with the name “Wildman Harrold.” [ABA Journal]

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…

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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…

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