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Locke Liddell agrees to merge with Lord Bissell Texas firm Locke Liddell & Sapp and Chicago’s Lord, Bissell & Brook have agreed to merge into a 700-lawyer firm to be named Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell. Jerry K. Clements, the Austin, Texas-based managing partner of Locke Liddell, said the firms signed a preliminary term sheet on May 22. The merger must be approved by at least 75% of the partners in each firm at votes set for mid-July, and is expected to close by Aug. 1. If approved, Clements would head a nine-member executive committee that would also include a vice chair and three other representatives from each firm. A headquarters hasn’t been determined, Clements said, although she noted it may be Austin because that’s where she lives. “It increases our size, which is important in today’s legal market, and it will help us compete in a number of areas,” said Larry Gray, Lord Bissell’s managing partner, noting that the firm’s practice areas are complimentary. Lord Bissell has a national strength in its insurance practice, while Locke Liddell has niches in real estate investment trusts and the energy market, he said. Locke Liddell is larger with 399 lawyers, but Lord Bissell, which has about 300, has a wider range of offices, including Los Angeles and Atlanta. Stinson Morrison picks up 40 St. Louis lawyers Stinson Morrison Hecker has acquired Blumenfeld, Kaplan & Sandweiss, a law firm with about 40 attorneys in St. Louis. The merger will create a 60-attorney presence in St. Louis for Kansas City, Mo.-based Stinson Morrison, which after the merger effective on July 1 will have about 360 attorneys. The St. Louis expansion will increase the firm’s reach in the areas of real estate and corporate transactions, said Mark Foster, managing partner of Stinson Morrison. Initially, the firm will have two offices in the St. Louis area and will consolidate those locations “in about a year,” he said. Stinson Morrison, ranked No. 136 in The National Law Journal‘s 2006 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms, has offices in eight locations, including Phoenix; Washington; and Omaha, Neb. Sidley Austin to settle IRS tax shelter probe Federal prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges against Sidley Austin over its involvement with illegal tax shelters, though the firm will pay a civil penalty of $39.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service. In announcing the decision last week, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia of the Southern District of New York distinguished the actions of the firm from that of former tax partner Raymond J. Ruble, who is already facing a criminal trial in New York federal court. Ruble, who was expelled from Sidley Austin in 2003, and several former employees of accounting firm KPMG are charged with creating and promoting tax shelters banned by the IRS, with Ruble also issuing hundreds of opinion letters providing legal cover for the shelters. Jones Day picks up three from Pillsbury Winthrop Jones Day has lured three partners away from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, including the former co-leader of the national litigation practice and the current managing partner of the Orange County, Calif., office. Richard Ruben, who co-led the litigation practice until announcing that he would switch firms; Darren Cottriel, office managing partner; and Ralph Blakeney will all be joining Jones Day’s Irvine, Calif., office. “A good part of the litigation practice in the Orange County office is going to go with me,” said Ruben, a 17-year Pillsbury veteran who served on the firm’s managing board for five years. Ruben said offers have been made to at least five associates. If they accept, Pillsbury’s Orange County office would shrink to just five lawyers, based on numbers on the firm’s Web site.

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