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Cozen O’Connor and Wolf Block have said that they will no longer entertain the possibility of a merger. In a brief statement issued late yesterday, the firms said they would not continue the preliminary merger discussions that began about three months ago. “As with many merger discussions between major firms, business and structural differences made completing a transaction too difficult,” according to the joint statement. The firms said they are each coming off of their best financial years to date and “have the utmost respect for the other.” Cozen O’Connor Chairman Stephen A. Cozen said in an interview that “it wasn’t a question of not trying.” No matter how much two firms like one another, Cozen said it gets to the point where someone might have to speak up if things don’t work for them. When asked whether that meant the merger plans weren’t working for his firm, Cozen said it was a joint decision to end the talks. Wolf Block Chairman Mark L. Alderman said that he would rather not comment at this point other than to reiterate that the firms left discussions with the utmost respect for one another. Some in the legal industry were surprised to hear that talks had ended after hearing on the streets that a potential merger was looking good. One source said the merger would have “made sense for each firm,” adding that there is probably disappointment on both sides. Alderman wouldn’t comment on whether the firm was still interested in a large-scale merger. Cozen said his firm is in the middle of discussions to acquire “major practices” in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Philadelphia. He said they would come in the form of group acquisitions and not necessarily full-scale mergers. Discussions between Wolf Block and Cozen O’Connor began in late November after Alderman called Cozen. The combined firm would have had more than 370 attorneys in Pennsylvania and 800 in total, giving it the most lawyers within the commonwealth, according to the 2006 PaLAW listing of the 100 largest firms. When word of the discussions first broke, some in the community questioned whether the cultures of the two firms – with Wolf Block as a partnership and Cozen O’Connor working on a corporate model – would be a good match. Those same critics also pointed, however, to practice areas within each firm that could have benefited one another. Cozen O’Connor’s insurance coverage practice was sought after by Wolf Block, while Cozen O’Connor was looking to expand its business and real estate practices through Wolf Block.

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