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Atlanta-based Long Aldridge & Norman and Dallas’ Winstead Sechrest & Minick continue to engage in merger talks. But what’s the motivation for these negotiations? Jeffrey K. Haidet, managing partner of Long Aldridge, says a merger with the Winstead firm — as well as any other merger of this size — would increase the firm’s geographic diversity. Also, Haidet says, both Long Aldridge and Winstead want to expand their presence in Washington. “Last year, we chose to adopt this strategy to accelerate our growth curve,” Haidet says. Haidet notes that both firms possess strong core practice areas like corporate mergers and acquisitions, real estate, litigation, and government affairs. W. Mike Baggett, Winstead’s managing partner, could not be reached for comment by press time. Lisa R. Smith, who has been brought in by both firms as an adviser on the potential merger, isn’t talking either. But she has written on law firm mergers, and that offers some insight. Smith, executive director of Hildebrandt International and head of the firm’s mergers and consolidations group, writes that firms of this size — Winstead has 275 lawyers, Long Aldridge has 145 — might not be big enough in today’s market. Smith notes in a recent article in The Hildebrandt Report that simply increasing head count is a motivation for many law firm mergers. “More general practice firms in major markets are feeling that 150 to 300 lawyers is decidedly midsize, both from the perspective of clients and recruits,” Smith writes. “Consequently, many of these firms are exploring expansion opportunities.” A Long Aldridge-Winstead merger would create a combined entity of about 420 attorneys in eight offices in Texas, Washington and Georgia. In the article, Smith says there were 70 law firm mergers in 2000, up from a record 60 mergers in 1999. In 2001, Smith predicts, mergers will maintain that pace. And what is particularly notable about the recent trend, Smith says, is the transactions’ sizes. In 2000, for example, Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders merged with Virginia’s Mays & Valentine, creating a 450-attorney firm in eight offices. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker acquired most of New York’s Battle Fowler last year. The merger spawned a combined firm of about 750 lawyers spread among nine offices. And San Francisco-based Pillsbury Madison & Sutro merged with New York-based Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts. The combined firm has more than 860 lawyers and 16 offices. But Smith also notes in her book, “Anatomy of a Law Firm Merger,” 2nd ed. (American Bar Association 2000) that following the merger trend is not a good reason to merge. “Some firms make the mistake of considering merger because other firms are merging,” Smith writes. “A merger is most successful when it is accomplished as part of a long-range business plan.” Smith, who told the Daily Report last week that the two firms have contacted Hildebrandt to guide them through discussions, did not return two telephone calls. AGG LAWYERS JOIN H&K CORPORATE, TECH PRACTICE The Atlanta office of Holland & Knight has added three former Arnall Golden Gregory attorneys to its corporate and technology practice. Former AGG partner Patrea L. Pabst will lead H&K’s biotechnology, medical and chemical intellectual property practice. She handles patent licensing, U.S. and foreign patent prosecution, and patent-related due diligence for investors. Pabst was head of the IP group at AGG. She says she brought clients Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Brown University, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Children’s Medical Center of Boston and Metabolix Inc. with her to H&K. Associates Zhaoyang “Paul” Li and Rivka D. Monheit moved to Holland & Knight with Pabst. Holland & Knight has more than 1,250 lawyers in 24 offices around the world. Briefly … A moot court team from Emory University School of Law took home the Hardy C. Dillard award at the 2001 Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition held last month in Washington. The Dillard award represents the “Best Brief in the World.” Also, in the regional rounds of the tournament, Emory won three awards. The team won the best brief category. Third-year student Rodger W. Moore placed second in the best oralist competition. Second-year student Soledad Adrianzen placed fifth in the best oralist competition. The Emory moot court team also includes third-year students Daniel B. Scott and Keilani E. Kimes, who served as coaches, 3L Julie M. Miller and 2L John L. Trotti.

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