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NEW YORK — The San Francisco Bay Area has long been home to some of the most diverse firms in the country, but three no longer exist. McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen and Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May have been swallowed up in mergers, while Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison fell apart in a spectacular collapse. In each case the biggest beneficiaries were East Coast firms that acquired some California-style diversity along with plain old legal talent. Last summer McCutchen, which ranked No. 5 in the Minority Law Journal’s previous Diversity Scorecard, merged with No. 106, Boston’s Bingham Dana. Crosby — which shows up at No. 16 in the current survey — linked up last fall with No. 158, Pittsburgh’s Reed Smith. Prior to its collapse this winter, Brobeck � No. 12 in the latest Scorecard — attemped a merger with No. 60, Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Though Brobeck fell apart when the merger was called off, the largest number of its lawyers still went to Morgan, Lewis. For the attorneys at McCutchen and at Crosby, diversity was high on the agenda in their merger negotiations. Raymond Marshall, who was involved in diversity efforts at the old McCutchen, said, “We were concerned about the lack of diversity on the Bingham side.” But he adds, “We talked about the issue in a candid way. We realized that McCutchen was exceptional and at the high end of the spectrum.” (Bingham McCutchen shows up at No. 24 on the latest Scorecard.) Crosby had to deal with a similar marriage of opposites. Janet Kwuon, who was on the firm’s diversity committee prior to its marriage with Reed Smith, says, “It was very important that the merger made sense on a business and cultural level.” She adds, “What we found in our early due diligence was that because Reed Smith’s main office was located in a less diverse place, they had to have a more formal system in place to overcome that.” Reed Smith already had a diversity director and a diversity initiative with a six-figure budget, Kwuon says. Crosby had more of an “ad hoc commitment to diversity,” she explains. Brobeck’s unusually large contingent of minority partners — 29, according to statistics the firm submitted last fall to The National Law Journal — splintered among multiple firms. The largest number, about five, ended up at Morgan, Lewis, including Brobeck’s former diversity chair, Roderick McLeod. The “commitment to diversity [at Morgan, Lewis] was an important factor, but secondary,” in his decision, McLeod says. Diversity was definitely a secondary concern for the Brobeck minority partners who were forced to find new homes elsewhere, and fast. Their overriding goal was to avoid client conflicts. “If you had a month, I think you could have other factors weighing in,” says Victor Sim, now in the Los Angeles office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, “but when you have a week, it’s about where your clients feel comfortable and where there is stability.” Helen Coster is an assistant editor at The American Lawyer, a Recorder affiliate based in New York. See related charts: Diversity Scorecard: Where California Firms Ranked Diversity Scorecard: Top 25 National Firms

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