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Law Firm Merger Mania

published September 06, 2008

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Currently, there's news about three deals — two rumors of potential mergers, and one merger that fell through.

First, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner is in merger talks with Nixon Peabody, according to the National Law Journal. Thelen Reid has been in the news a lot of late, and merger talks have surfaced. Several partners for Thelen recently left the firm quite suddenly, which usually is a sign of trouble brewing. Additionally, the firm laid off around 26 associates earlier this year. If the two firms combine, the new one will have around 1,150 attorneys, assuming current staffing levels are maintained (which may be a big assumption).

Heller Ehrman is the second firm known to be considering a merger. In fact, Heller has been looking for a suitor for a while now. Recently, the firm was turned down by Baker & McKenzie . Now Heller is apparently in talks with Mayer Brown, though it's allegedly still keeping its options open. If the merger does happen, the combined firm would consist of nearly 2,000 attorneys.

And now for the merger that fell through. The New York office of Gunderson Dettmer — about 30 attorneys — was all set to move to Cooley Godward. In fact, the Gunderson attorneys had even been given new Cooley gear, such as Blackberries, laptops, etc., and had been set up with new email accounts and everything.

On the Friday before Labor Day, however, Gunderson's New York managing partner just called up and canceled the deal, for reasons that haven't yet been released. This blindsided Cooley, naturally. No word on whether the laptops and blackberries have been returned.

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