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Locke Lord and Patton Boggs end merger talks; did Chevron case play a role?

Posted Dec 20, 2013 7:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Locke Lord and Patton Boggs have ended merger talks, the firms have confirmed in a joint statement.

"Following preliminary talks and routine due diligence, Locke Lord and Patton Boggs have decided to jointly end their recent discussions regarding a possible combination," the statement said. "We enjoyed getting to know each other and learning about our firms' respective philosophies and strategic plans. The discussions were informative and beneficial in creating new friendships and referral opportunities."

The Am Law Daily and Reuters spoke with unnamed sources who told of reasons for the decision. Both stories say one issue was Patton Boggs’ involvement in litigation with Chevron over environmental damage in Ecuador’s rain forest.

Patton Boggs represents a group of villagers in the country seeking to enforce a judgment; Chevron is seeking permission to file a counterclaim that alleges Patton Boggs knew the judgment was obtained as a result of corruption, according to the Reuters account. Patton Boggs denies those allegations.

Locke Lord was concerned the case could damage its relationships with Chevron and other oil companies, sources told Reuters. The Am Law Daily’s sources said potential liability for Patton Boggs was an issue.

A concern for Patton Boggs, sources told Reuters, was that it would lose its brand and control in a merger with the larger firm.

Both stories also note recent layoffs at Patton Boggs.

Two other potential law firm mergers have also been called off recently. Talks ended in November between Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and between Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge

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