X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Partners at pioneering international law firm Coudert Brothers have voted to let the firm break up after failing to reach a merger agreement with another firm. “After exploring various options, the partners of Coudert have authorized the Firm to enter into combinations of offices and practice groups with other firms to reflect the strengths of the Firm,” New York-based Coudert Brothers said in a statement issued on Aug. 18. “Such combinations will be done in an orderly process and announced over the next several weeks.” Sources familiar with the situation said the announcement indicated that recent merger discussions with Baker & McKenzie had failed to produce an agreement, though it remained possible that individual offices or groups of partners would join Baker & McKenzie. Neither Coudert nor Baker & McKenzie would comment on those discussions. Coudert’s announcement signals the likely dissolution in the coming weeks of one of the nation’s oldest and most respected firms. But the news also comes as little surprise within the legal community. Though a growing number of departures in recent months has fueled expectations of an imminent collapse, the decline of Coudert has been evident for several years. “It’s not a shock, but it is a real sad day,” said Philippe Bennett, the firm’s former intellectual property chairman, who left last year to join the New York office of Atlanta-based Alston & Bird. Ward Bower, a principal at law firm consultancy Altman Weil, noted that Coudert Brothers would be the latest in a string of major firm collapses in recent years, following San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, Chicago’s Altheimer & Gray and Boston’s Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault. “It’s reflective of how volatile the market is these days and how vulnerable firms are,” he said. Though founded in New York in 1853, Coudert has long been known primarily for its overseas presence. The firm had an office in Paris in 1879 and recently celebrated 25 years in China, a market that most U.S. firms are only just beginning to explore. At its height, the firm had 28 offices worldwide. It now has 21 offices, 17 overseas. But Coudert’s early lead in international practice has been steadily eroded over the past decade or so by the expansion abroad of other firms in both the United States and Britain. Its roster of about 600 lawyers worldwide is now dwarfed by those of global behemoths such as 3,000-lawyer Clifford Chance or 1,900-lawyer White & Case. Bower pointed out that those other firms typically expanded overseas from a position of strength, with a strong profit base in New York or London. In contrast, Coudert failed to build strong domestic core practices to feed its global network. Bennett said the firm faced a crossroads in the late 1990s when it realized that its niche, international law, was under attack by a multitude of new competitors. He said the firm could have decided then to focus on building domestic practices, possibly focusing on the New York metropolitan area or the Northeast Corridor, while also maintaining its strongest practices in Paris, Moscow, London and Beijing.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.