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San Francisco-Two of the San Francisco Bay area’s largest firms-Cooley Godward and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe-have abandoned merger talks, according to sources close to both firms. A source familiar with Cooley Godward’s end of the negotiations said, “We have ended discussions mutually and amicably.” The firms had been talking since the beginning of the year, but neither firm put the deal to a partnership vote. Both Cooley and Orrick have been searching for merger partners, and the breakup of their talks means both firms will likely be out trolling for new prospects. Cooley Chairman Stephen Neal said in March that the firm was looking to combine with a firm that has a big New York office, strong litigation and corporate practices, healthy finances and a European office or an interest in developing one. Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. hasn’t made such a public pronouncement about his firm’s merger hopes, but Orrick has been considering whether to acquire the Menlo Park, Calif.-based corporate boutique Venture Law Group. Orrick and Venture have had a client-sharing agreement since 1999. The status of those discussions is unclear.

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