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For the second time in less than a week, a Bay Area technology law firm is dissolving: Partners at Skjerven Morrill have voted to disband the firm. According to a partner inside the firm, the intellectual property boutique’s partnership voted to dissolve the firm on Friday. A press release announcing the decision is expected Monday afternoon. “We ran out of money,” said the Skjerven partner. “We’ve got debt; we’ve got leases; and our income is not enough to make it a viable entity going forward over the long haul.” Skjerven will wind down its operations over the next several weeks as attorneys take care of client matters. It’s still unclear whether the firm will shut down through a bankruptcy filing. The partner said the preferred route is to wind down operations outside of bankruptcy court. The move comes days after partners at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, one of the Bay Area’s biggest law firms, voted to dissolve. Similar to Brobeck, whose partners decided to call it quits after unsuccessful merger negotiations with Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the Skjerven demise was triggered by failed efforts to merge with a larger firm. Skjerven was reportedly in parallel merger discussions with Pillsbury Winthrop and Chicago’s Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. When both discussions fell through, Skjerven’s partnership decided to throw in the towel. A large number of Skjerven attorneys are expected to move to Pillsbury Winthrop and to Sidley Austin. More than a half dozen of Skjerven’s partners joined the firm from Pillsbury in 2000. Last week, Pillsbury Chair Mary Cranston acknowledged that the firm was talking to numerous partners at Skjerven, including several former Pillsbury attorneys. Founded in 1976, Skjerven was hard hit by the economic downturn of the past two years. It shuttered two of its four offices in Austin, Texas, and Newport Beach in April. Around the same time name partner and rainmaker Alan MacPherson jumped ship to launch his own firm following a management shake-up. His departure, along with that of several other partners, robbed the firm of its IP talent and expertise. The resulting firm was more of a general practice firm than an IP strong house. “There was no guiding intelligence at Skjerven since MacPherson left,” said IP management consultant and recruiter Katharine Patterson. “Everybody’s a very high quality attorney there, but they lacked a perceptible business plan.”

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