Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted May 19, 2014 06:56 pm CDT
Partners at Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders could vote on a proposed merger as early as this week.
Reuters and Wall Street Journal say unnamed sources familiar with the matter told them that the combined entity would result in an approximately-1,700 lawyer firm that would be known as Squire Patton Boggs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the management committee at Patton Boggs—which has nearly 400 lawyers firmwide and is known as a lobbying and political powerhouse—has already approved the merger proposal. The Wall Street Journal reports that it’s not clear whether the management committee at Squire Sanders—which has approximately 1,300 lawyers firmwide—has approved the proposal.
The firms have been in talking about a merger for months. The Journal reported in February that Patton Boggs has been reducing its size and cutting expenditures in an effort to land a merger partner. In 2012, the firm held talks with now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf about a possible merger before Dewey ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Patton Boggs fell off the Am Law 100 (sub. req.) this year after experiencing declining revenues.
The firm has also had to deal with a major ethical headache after being accused of fraud over its role in representing Ecuadorean plaintiffs hoping to collect a $19 billion judgment levied by an Ecuadorean court against Chevron over pollution in the Lago Agrio region. Chevron, which is fighting the damage award in New York federal district court by maintaining that it was bought and paid for by corrupt lawyers and judges, had accused Patton Boggs of being part of the fraud. Two weeks ago, the firm finally withdrew from the case, paying $15 million to Chevron and stating that it regretted getting involved.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Chevron matter had been a sticking point in negotiations with Squire Sanders. The Cleveland-based firm has been on an expansion tear as of late. In the last few years, the firm, which utilizes a Swiss verein structure, has combined with U.K. law firm Hammonds and opened offices throughout Asia. Last year, the firm established strategic alliances with firms based in Ukraine and Indonesia, Phoenix Business Journal reported at the time.