Law Firm Mergers

Ted Cruz

* After months of gains, the legal industry lost 900 jobs in October, just as some of the big state bar exam results came out. We imagine the folks who rallied for the 10-months-after-graduation employment statistic are as pleased as punch. [Am Law Daily]

* “How do we find a new inventory of high net worth clients?” The answer for Kelly Drye was really quite simple: it seems that pro athletes are willing to pay just about anything to keep themselves from going bankrupt. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “I don’t know why it’s better to use a bigger firm.” When it comes to the latest law firm mega-mergers, some say that it’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* It’s like Groundhog Day for these Biglaw attorneys: Apple and Samsung are preparing for the “patent trial of the century,” part deux, and both MoFo and Quinn Emanuel have enlisted new lineups. [The Recorder]

* SAC Capital’s general counsel is okay, “[a]ll things considered.” His painful appendectomy is nothing compared to the $1.2 billion his hedge fund has to pay the government. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Ted Cruz might be an “AASS,” but he’s done at least one awesome thing in his life. He once drank so much Everclear that he completely ruined a play put on by the Harvard Law drama society. [Boston Globe]

* The Z-list actress who sued IMDb for revealing her age filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit because hey, some of those judges are pretty old. Maybe they’ll sympathize. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

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

Merger season has arrived, yielding a fruitful harvest of potentially enormous mergers between Patton Boggs and Locke Lord and between Pillsbury and Orrick. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these mergers is the potentially “super” practice groups these mergers will make.

Patton Boggs has recently undergone a period of mild strife, as we detailed several months ago. Though they lost a significant number of energy and environmental attorneys after the fallout of the Chevron litigation, this merger with Locke Lord could be effective not only as a stopgap, but could also vastly strengthen each firm’s energy department….

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* Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in being one of the only justices to perform a same-sex marriage. No divas here: the wedding ceremony was held at the high court because “[t]hat’s where she was.” [BuzzFeed]

* “Proceed with caution.” David Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, isn’t too keen on the latest patent reform bill that’s currently before the House Judiciary Committee. If only the man still had a say. [National Law Journal]

* Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have released a joint statement to ensure the public that the proposed merger is still on. Good news, everyone! The firm won’t be named McDentons. [Am Law Daily]

* Ralph Lerner, formerly of Sidley Austin, has been slapped on the wrist suspended from practice in New York for one year’s time after improperly billing car service to clients to the tune of $50,000. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy, and lawyers are still counseling their clients on how to muddle through the mess. Volunteer some pro bono hours and help out those in need. [New York Law Journal]

* After threatening to cut faculty positions, New England Law Dean John O’Brien is taking a 25 percent pay cut. He’ll only earn $650,000. Wow. I think we’re supposed to be impressed. [Boston Business Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: rescuer of nerd relics. Head to this Brooklyn book store (of course it’s in Brooklyn) if you’re desperately seeking long lost science fiction tales. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* We bet that folks in Australia would like to tell the the High Court to bugger off after overturning this ruling. Sexual injuries that occur during work-related trips don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. [Bloomberg]

As reported in Morning Docket, it looks like there’s another big merger in the offing. While it might not create a new top 10 mega-firm like the proposed Pillsbury and Orrick union, if the rumored merger talks between Patton Boggs and Locke Lord come to fruition, it would join one of the major players in energy law with one of the most influential lobbying shops in D.C.

Sounds like a deal rife with “synergy” and all those other corporate buzzwords.

And this may not be the only deal Patton Boggs is looking at….

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If you’re hiring a lateral partner at this level, then quality is assumed….

If you’re using Bigg & Mediocre, then quality is assumed….

If you’re hiring only from the top ten percent at the top ten schools, then quality is assumed….

Let me start again:

By the time you get to major league baseball, quality is assumed.

Right. But I’d rather have Babe Ruth than a journeyman outfielder.

We instinctively realize that, in every endeavor known to man, there are true superstars. But, when we talk about lawyers, we somehow assume that they’re all fungible. Or, in the examples I just gave, that all the lawyers within a certain rarefied group are fungible. That’s just not true. There’s quality, and then there’s real quality. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.” Talent is nice; genius is better.

If you’re with me so far, then you don’t believe that all law firms are created equal; you don’t believe that all lawyers (or partners) within a single firm are created equal; and you understand that many law firms are basically incapable of true quality control….

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Jodi Arias

* Hot on the heels of news about Pillsbury’s talks with Orrick, we’ve got the scoop on yet another possible law firm merger. Patton Boggs has the urge to merge, and Locke Lord seems pretty receptive. [Reuters]

* Three people who were optimistic about law school graduated with three very different results. One has a job, one is unemployed, and one failed the bar. Sadly, this seems pretty standard. [National Law Journal]

* Lat’s going to be on vacation this week (lucky him), but while he’s gone you can check out his review of a new novel set in a law firm, The Partner Track (affiliate link) by Helen Wan. Enjoy! [Wall Street Journal]

* A judge denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit, noting everyone could “suck her dicta” concerning the Supreme Court’s notion that players cannot be compensated. [ESPN]

* Jodi Arias wants to fire Kirk Nurmi, her lead attorney, claiming in a 12-page handwritten motion that he has an “utter poverty of people skills.” Her words hurt as much as her stab wounds. :( [Arizona Republic]

Potentially landscape-altering deals don’t come along every day, and a deal that would merge a 1,000-lawyer firm with a 700-lawyer firm would be exactly that. And it’s not just headcount — the marriage of these two firms would have placed the joint entity at No. 9 in revenue for 2012.

But just because two firms are talking merger doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We’ve been let down before.

Indeed, we’ve been let down by one of these firms before. Way back in February, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop was talking with Fulbright & Jaworski about a merger. Nothing ever came of that, but members of the management at Pillsbury are still on the prowl for a big, strong firm to sweep them off their feet. It’s all very romantic.

And now they just might have found the partner they’ve been looking for….

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Jodi Arias

* Trouble in paradise, so soon? The proposed merger between Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge has been delayed. McKenna has postponed its partnership vote, and Dentons says no partnership vote was ever planned. [Daily Report]

* Wherein a firm fails to Latham an ex-employee’s baby mama drama: a legal secretary who was allegedly told her pregnancy complications “were not [the director of HR's] problem” will see her case against L&W move forward. [Blog of Legal Times]

* You know that relations have grown bitter between opposing counsel when attorneys from one firm refer to lawyers from the other as “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.” The legal fee dispute in the BARBRI antitrust case rages on at the Ninth Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Paging ProudCooleyGrad: Kurzon Strauss, the firm that sued Cooley Law over its allegedly deceptive job stats, is trying to get records unsealed in the school’s defamation case that’s now on appeal. [MLive.com]

* Convicted murderer and jailhouse hottie Jodi Arias is accepting donations for her appeals fund. It could be worth your while — if you donate enough, maybe she’ll consider turning you into her next victim. [HLN TV]

Last month we wrote about a Biglaw firm that’s in big trouble. The firm in question: Dow Lohnes, a former Am Law 200 firm that has been hemorrhaging lawyers and clients (and lost two more partners last week, to Venable). In our story about Dow Lohnes, we noted that “[i]t seems possible that the firm could merge out of existence — if it’s lucky enough to find a partner.”

Fortunately for the remaining lawyers and staff at Dow Lohnes, the sinking ship has located some lifeboats. A larger and stronger firm, a member of the Am Law 50 and Vault 100, will be picking up many (but not all) of Dow Lohnes’s lawyers.

Who’s the white knight riding to the rescue of Dow Lohnes?

(Note the UPDATES added at the end of this post.)

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Why go big when you can supersize? As has been reported recently, one of Biglaw’s most aggressive firms in terms of growth, Dentons (née Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and some foreign counterparts cobbled together just a few years ago), is now in serious discussions about a combination with McKenna Long & Aldridge. Both firms are products of recent tie-ups themselves, and the combined firm should the transaction go through will be instantly one of the world’s largest, at least in terms of number of lawyers. Welcome to the age of the global Megalaw franchise, in which a firm can raise its profile by connecting with other firms in the interest of getting bigger, all the while creating a new global brand in the process. Dentons is sure giving it a try.

It is actually unfair to say that Dentons is the Biglaw equivalent of McDonald’s, or even Burger King. Biglaw brands of that stature would be Baker & McKenzie or even DLA Piper, and not only because they are bigger….

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