Law Firms

A Few Drinks, and the Hogan Lovells Merger Is History

Did the genesis of the merger between Hogan & Hartson and Lovells spring from drinks in Los Angeles between two lawyers?

Hogan & Hartson chairman Warren Gorrell told Legal Bisnow earlier this week that the merger idea came from a July 2008 meeting over drinks with Patrick Sherrington, the head of Lovells’ dispute resolution practice.

Sherrington isn’t about to disagree. He recalls having drinks with Gorrell, a friend he has known for more than 15 years through their participation in the Pacific Rim Advisory Council. But he doesn’t recall exactly when they met, and he doesn’t recall specific talk of a merger. Most likely, they were discussing the global nature of law practice, Sherrington tells the ABA Journal.

In any event, Sherrington is glad about the outcome. A partnership vote this week cleared the way for the merger, set to take place next May. The combination will put the new Hogan Lovells into the global top 10 with 2,500 lawyers and revenues of about $1.8 billion, Legal Week has reported.

“I’ve been an absolute champion” of the merger throughout the process, Sherrington said in the ABA Journal interview. “This is a fantastic opportunity to offer our clients what I think they would really relish, which is a truly integrated world-class law firm with a depth of practice globally.”

Sherrington says the merger will create a “genuinely trans-Atlantic law firm” with two partners of equal size and strength. “It’s very nice to be doing it first, and doing it in each of our cases with the firm of our choice.”

Sherrington points out that a lot of issues had to be addressed before the merger could win approval, including questions of partner pay, law firm governance and practice symmetry.

Previous press reports had some of the details. The firms will maintain operational centers in both London and Washington, D.C., and will operate as two different partnership entities. Profits will not be shared between the two partnerships, but there will be changes in partnership pay, with Lovells moving away from lockstep compensation. The new firm will be led by Gorrell and Lovells managing partner David Harris.

And then there was the issue of the name for the new law firm. Legal Bisnow said it would have preferred HartLove; the American Lawyer was disappointed it was not the “Potter-esque Hogells.”

Instead, the new firm will be called Hogan Lovells. “I think it’s got quite a nice ring,” Sherrington says, despite his firm’s second billing.

The truth is that any merger involves some compromise, Sherrington says, and that includes the law firm name. The new firm will use Lovells’ branding and colors, however—meaning the green square surrounding the Lovells name on its website and stationery will be retained for Hogan Lovells.

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