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Merger Mania: From Small to BigLaw, Then Goodbye Job

Posted Oct 25, 2007 1:47 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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When Berg & Parker, a 13-lawyer California boutique with a significant real estate practice, merged into 400-attorney Preston Gates & Ellis about three years ago, its attorneys had high hopes for their future with the Seattle-based national firm.

But after Preston Gates merged with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham roughly two years later, the now-1,400-lawyer K&L Gates' billing rates rose. Soon, a substantial number of the former Berg & Parker lawyers—and, in particular, several partners with real estate practices—found it just wasn't a good fit. Five of them—three partners and two associates—have left for new jobs elsewhere during 2007, reports the Recorder.

"I looked around and realized that my particular practice really wasn't in step with where the firm in California seemed to be headed," says F. Gale Connor, a former managing partner of the Berg boutique who was one of the architects of the original Preston Gates merger. A big part of the problem says Connor, is that his hourly billing rate kept rising. It had gone from $300-plus to $450 at Preston Gates, and, he realized, "would not be lining up with the goals at K&L, which expected him to hike them even further after this year," as the Recorder puts it.

Connor is joining the San Francisco office of Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, a 130-attorney Los Angeles-based firm with a national practice, and four other lawyers have also left the now-BigLaw K&L Gates firm this year. But other lawyers who were originally at the boutique remain at K&L Gates, the legal newspaper notes. Among them are Berg & Parker's former name partners.

Updated 2:54 p.m. 10/25/2007. This version CORRECTS Berg & Parker's name.

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