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Firm name: Dechert Locations: Philadelphia, London, Washington, D.C., Boston, Hartford, Conn., and five other offices Size: 587 attorneys Chairman: Barton J. Winokur Firm names are dropping like flies. With merger consolidation and the pressure to create a brand-name presence, law firms are trading the legacies of partners dead and gone for shorter, catchier titles. Philadelphia’s Dechert Price & Rhoads has gone about as short as you can go and is now simply Dechert. The timing isn’t random; after six years of fine-tuning an alliance with London’s Titmuss Sainer, the two announced a merger as of July 1. The name change wasn’t too traumatic for the London firm, which in 1994 changed its name from Titmuss Sainer & Webb to Titmuss Sainer Dechert. “In the U.K. in recent years, there has been a concerted effort to move over to single names for practices,” says London Managing Partner Steven Fogel. “It’s very important to convey to the market a name that is easily memorable and sayable.” On this side of the Atlantic though, “there were some concerns … about whether it would be recognizable as a law firm,” acknowledges firm Chairman Barton J. Winokur. And although none of the name partners is still around, they’re hardly ancient history. “When I got here, Dechert, Price and Rhoads were alive,” Winokur says. But after some informal canvassing, the decision to shorten the name was made by the merger committee. There were no independent votes on the name change; it was presented as part of the merger. “You have to ask the question, when does the law firm have the opportunity to do this? It can do it when the firm is confident that the firm name is the brand name or it can do it when it does something special, like a merger,” Fogel says. The firm not only hopes to brand itself more easily as Dechert in the U.S. and U.K. markets, but also hopes the name will ease expansion into other markets. “It’s a happy coincidence that the name Dechert is easily pronounceable in the European world,” says Fogel. The trans-Atlantic merger is the culmination of an experiment that began when Dechert and Titmuss combined their London offices a half dozen years ago. At the time, partners were given the option to join their practices and become partners at both firms. Revenues were shared between the firms. “It was an effective laboratory to prove how this combination could bring enormous benefits to both firms,” Winokur says. The two firms decided to merge for two reasons. One was to reinforce to clients that they were receiving seamless service. “We have found our clients are very concerned that when they have representation, particularly outside the country, they feel it’s important to have representation by one firm; they want a single response,” Winokur says. The second reason was that as the London office expanded, it became increasingly difficult to keep track of which firm or firms employees and partners belonged to. Winokur and Fogel attribute the culmination of their merger to two things: financial commitment and time. One reason so few trans-Atlantic mergers work, says Winokur, is firms that court each other are too tentative. “Lawyers tend to be possessive.They particularly tend to be possessive about their firms’ clients,” he says. In addition, Fogel says, “We were lucky that when we designed the arrangement many years ago, we had the luxury of taking our time. … The difficulty in the current market is that people are in a hurry because the current market is quickly becoming international.”

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