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Altheimer & Gray to merge or dissolve Facing a cash-flow crunch, Altheimer & Gray has decided to reorganize, a move that could lead to a merger with another firm or the complete dissolution of the 88-year-old Chicago firm. On Friday, Altheimer’s executive committee recommended dissolving the partnership and winding down operations at the firm’s 11 international offices. The 301-lawyer firm issued a press release ascribing the trouble to the slowdown in corporate work, which it said accounts for 75 percent of the firm’s practice. The announcement stated that Altheimer’s partnership was scheduled to vote on dissolution Monday. Valerie Corr, a firm spokeswoman, said that there had been no partnership vote on Monday and that a vote today was possible. Graham Taylor, a partner in Altheimer’s San Francisco office, said the firm was in deep merger discussions with a number of “major, national firms.” He said that the 12-attorney San Francisco office, which opened in September 2002, is committed to staying intact. “We seek to stay together and join another national firm or be part of a merger that is arranged at the Chicago level,” said Taylor. According to Taylor, the firm has retained Piper Rudnick and financial advisors from American Express to explore various reorganization possibilities. Taylor said Altheimer was carrying a medium level of debt, but that the real problem was a sharp drop in collections. “In the balance sheet sense we’re fine. In a cash flow sense we’re not fine. And cash is the oxygen of any law firm.” — Alexei Oreskovic Cooley attorney returns to fold Cooley Godward has added a familiar face to its life sciences practice group in Palo Alto. Brian Cunningham, who left Cooley in 1998 after nearly 10 years as a partner there, has rejoined the firm as of counsel. For the past five years Cunningham has worked at Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. in South San Francisco, where he most recently served as president and chief operating officer. “Cooley is a firm I know very well — and equally important — they know me very well. There are few surprises,” he said. “I like to get repotted every now and then,” said Cunningham about why he left Rigel to return to Cooley. “I wasn’t a lawyer at Rigel, and it was the right time to make a change.” Cunningham was a partner at Cooley from 1989 to 1998, representing life sciences and health care companies in corporate and securities matters, among other things. In addition to working on his practice, he’ll be helping lawyers at the firm with business development. Before joining Cooley he had served as vice president, secretary and general counsel of Genentech Inc. and associate corporate counsel of Monsanto Co. Cunningham is the second former partner to rejoin Cooley in the past two weeks. Diane Savage returned to the firm recently after a three-year retirement. — Jason Dearen

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