Law Firms

Dewey + LeBoeuf = Mega Merger?

Two major New York-based firms—Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae—are in advanced merger talks that would create a firm that ranks in the top dozen in terms of number of lawyers and revenue, anonymous sources have told the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A formal annoucement of the discussions could come as early as Monday.

The combined firm would have almost 1,300 lawyers in 12 countries and revenue approaching $1 billion, the Times reports. Mergers of this size—particularly involving New York firms—are very rare, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog noted.

LeBoeuf has more than 700 lawyers based in 18 offices, and Dewey has 550 attorneys in 12 cities, according to the Times. Last year, LeBoeuf reported $513 million in gross revenue and $1.43 million in profits per equity partner; Dewey had $409 million in revenue and $1.45 million in profits per partner.

Late last year, Dewey had advanced but ultimately fruitless merger talks with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. That combined firm would have had about 1,200 lawyers and $1 billion in revenue, but the deal cratered after 10 partners left Dewey during the discussions, according to the WSJ Law Blog.

Dewey/LeBoeuf would have 170 lawyers in London—more than almost any other U.S. firm—and insulation against any decline in New York’s standing as a center for capital markets, law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen said on his blawg, Adam Smith, Esq. New York’s leadership may be threatened because of “a combination of globalization in general (when there are international alternatives, there are international alternatives); the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley, real and perceived; the omnipresent plaintiffs securities bar in the U.S.; and the overhang of the ‘Spitzer Effect.’ If a city set out on a conscious program to position itself as friendly to global capital formation, it’s safe none of these phenomena would be on its agenda,” he writes.

So what would the new firm be called? The smart money is on “Dewey LeBoeuf,” according to Above the Law. LeBoeuf corporate partner Michael Groll has registered the domain name, it reports.

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