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Recruiter Claims He Is Owed $1.5M for Bingham and McKee Merger

Posted Aug 10, 2010 7:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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After Bingham McCutchen and McKee Nelson announced their merger last year, California legal recruiter Alan Miles sent along his bill for introducing the two firms: $1.5 million.

Bingham balked at paying, and after making a $500,000 offer to settle the dispute, Miles took the matter to arbitration, the American Lawyer reports. The story, based on interviews with “half a dozen knowledgeable sources,” all anonymous, says Miles contended an existing contract with Bingham governed the fee.

The contract called for a fee of up to $1.5 million when lateral candidates introduced to Bingham joined its Los Angeles office, the story says. Miles thought he was due the maximum because of the number of new lawyers joining Bingham in the merger.

Miles wasn’t the only legal consultant seeking fees as a result of the merger talks, according to the story. McKee Nelson hired industry consultant Peter Zeughauser to conduct an analysis and help it through merger discussions. The story says the fee was expected to be as high as $2 million, but Zeughauser was ultimately paid $525,000. He is not pursuing legal action and declined to comment to the American Lawyer.

Bingham spokesman Eric Miller told the American Lawyer the matter was “a simple contract disagreement” and the firm expected its position “to be upheld as a matter of fact and law." Miller said Bingham had hired numerous legal search firms, and never before had a dispute that resulted in legal action.

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