Law Firm Mergers

The average high temperature for Houston in July is a scorching 94 degrees. It’s one hot legal market.

Figuratively as well as literally. Back in April, for example, we talked about Kirkland & Ellis opening a Houston office — and prying away partners with $5 million pay packages. You don’t need to be a high-powered partner to get in on the fun; even junior to midlevel associates are getting offered signing bonuses when they lateral.

And this hot market is only getting hotter. Who’s the latest major law firm to land in Space City?

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There’s nobody I’ve talked to at Squire Sanders who doesn’t think Patton Boggs doesn’t have the potential to take the firm down.

– A disgruntled former partner of Squire Sanders who left the firm following its recent merger with Patton Boggs.

(Do other legacy Squire Sanders & Dempsey partners feel the same way?)

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Lindsay Lohan

* Law firm mergers are on a record-setting pace, with 39 thus far in 2014. Just one “megamerger” was announced in the second quarter (Patton Boggs / Squire Sanders), but hey, we still have half the year ahead of us. [Am Law Daily]

* It hasn’t been a good week for the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In addition to all of its enrollment woes, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of its defamation suit against Team Strauss/Anziska. [National Law Journal]

* The doctors who spent the month of June evaluating Oscar Pistorius’s mental health found that he was depressed and posed a potential suicide risk. You’d feel the same if you were facing jail time. [CNN]

* Walgreens will give $180,000 to an ex-employee with diabetes as a settlement after the store fired her for eating a $1.39 bag of chips before paying to fend off a low blood sugar attack. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Lindsay Lohan is suing Rockstar Games over an alleged character likeness in Grand Theft Auto V. To be fair, the character does kind of look like LiLo circa her “Mean Girls” days. [International Business Times]

Yesterday we wrote about a managing partner’s abrupt departure from her firm — a departure that the remaining members of management noted in a somewhat snarky email.

At the time, we didn’t know where she was headed. Now we know her destination — and we can understand why some of her former colleagues might be bent out of shape over her leaving.

Where did this prominent partner land, and what might happen to the firm she left behind?

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* “They aren’t required to hear it, but this is the major social issue of the day.” The Supreme Court will likely hear a gay marriage case soon, and it’ll obviously be a vehement 5-4 opinion. [NBC News]

* But is SCOTUS really so bitterly divided now? Here’s a fun fact: The justices agreed unanimously in 66 percent of this term’s cases, and the last time that happened was in 1940. [New York Times]

* A partner has left the luxuries of earning up to $4.8 million per year at Wachtell Lipton to start his own executive compensation boutique, which we understand is basically like seeing a unicorn. [Am Law Daily]

* The post-merger world at Squire Patton Boggs is similar to the pre-merger world in that partners are still being churned in and out of the firm every other day. Check out the latest ins and outs. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The Fourth of July is coming up, and you know you want to light up some fireworks. Sure, it’s illegal to sell them in your state, but here’s where you can travel to go to buy some to celebrate freedom. [Yahoo!]

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

Alliteration aficionados are bemoaning the tongue-twisting fusion of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs into Squire Patton Boggs. I prefer the feudal-esque Squire Boggs, but then again, I was not on the naming committee. Aside from this rebranding exercise, Squire Patton Boggs makes it clear that mergers (or acquisitions) are easier to execute in principal than reality.

Many of the firms in the Am Law 200 are the result of previous mergers including WilmerHale and DLA Piper. Most of these mergers were consummated before the recession, and since then, the parity between Am Law 200 firms has been dwindling.

The race for supremacy in the legal market has created a system with far less parity than before and consequently, a greater degree of difficulty for mergers. For example, the spread of Profits Per Partner in 2003 is right-skewed — and this will likely always be the case — but overall, there is little variance in spread of PPP in 2003 when compared to the spread in 2014…

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* “[T]hree names are unnecessary, and over time I think you’ll see Squire Patton start to take hold.” Sanders got the boot in this law firm merger, and it won’t be long before Boggs follows. [Am Law Daily]

* The “great female brain drain” at Am Law 200 firms isn’t slowing down, and it will only get better if Biglaw firms concentrate less on their failed “fix the women” approaches. [Harvard Business Review]

* Mary Jo White of the SEC promised to dust off an often ignored — but “potentially [] very powerful” — section of securities law to pursue financial violations. Be wary of the “innocent instrumentality” doctrine, defense attorneys. [DealBook / New York Times]

* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law school graduates are still having a very tough time getting jobs as lawyers, and there is no real end in sight. [Sacramento Bee]

* If you’re looking for a way to explain a switch in your undergrad major when applying to law school, show admissions committees how pretty your grades are now. Tada! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Usually Friday afternoon news dumps before holiday weekends are reserved for embarrassing news — a disgraced government official resigning to “spend more time with his family,” for example. But this latest news is happy rather than embarrassing (for the most part).

After a brief suspension of the voting, the partnership of Squire Sanders voted today to approve the proposed merger with troubled Patton Boggs. Not surprisingly, the Patton Boggs partnership had approved the merger days ago, on Monday. When a lifeboat pulls up, you don’t play hard to get.

So what’s the embarrassing part of this deal?

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When we last checked in on Patton Boggs, the long-suffering law firm was on the brink of a bankruptcy breakthrough. Its partners, and the partners of Squire Sanders, were in the middle of voting on a merger that would save Patton Boggs.

Alas, sadly for Patton Boggs, Squire Sanders has suspended the merger vote. What happened? Did Squire come to its senses get second thoughts about that hideous proposed firm name, Squire Patton Boggs?

Actually, no; the issue is more substantial than that. Here’s a hint: Patton Boggs might have saved itself by June, if it weren’t for those meddling… Ecuadorian villagers!

(The vote is back on. Please note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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* A DLA Piper partner was cleared by the firm in connection with a string of sexist emails exchanged with a client because real lads don’t get in trouble for such trifling behavior. We’ll have more on this later. [Am Law Daily]

* Patton Boggs partners started voting on the firm’s merger with Squire Sanders yesterday. Apparently there’s at least one partner who will not be allowed to join the new firm because of prior conduct. Sucks to be you, guy. [Reuters]

* “It’s the best way to prepare for a whole variety of things.” Right now is one of the best times to go to law school, say California law school deans who really need to get asses in empty seats. [Daily Transcript]

* “We are a better people than what these laws represent.” Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage was struck down yesterday, making it the 14th victory in a row for the marriage equality movement. [Bloomberg]

* Showtime just bought a law firm comedy about “four smartass, workaholic associates” in Biglaw trying to make partner and avoid being murdered by the office serial killer at the same time. Uh, yeah. [Deadline]

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