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Saying they realized they would not make a good pair, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen and suitor Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe have ceased merger talks. “We both concluded jointly that we ought to go our separate ways,” said Michael Plishner, McCutchen Doyle managing partner. McCutchen Doyle entered into exclusive merger negotiations with the 850-lawyer Piper Marbury in late April. Plishner said it was a combination of client conflicts, “management issues” and “practice group synergies” that led to talks breaking down. “Obviously, there were differences in terms of philosophies, and we decided we couldn’t work our way through them,” he said. Piper Marbury partner and chief operating officer Jeffrey Liss wouldn’t comment on the breakdown, saying only: “We have an agreement that we’ll limit our statements to what was in our joint release.” But others speculate that 302-lawyer McCutchen Doyle’s highly consensus-driven management style hobbled talks. Many of the partners, said lawyers in the firm, are in favor of a merger on a conceptual level but resistant to the idea on an emotional one. “McCutchen Doyle’s talked to a lot of people and hasn’t been able to put together a deal yet,” said law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser. “They’ve been in play a long, long time.” “I think it’s frankly a compliment to our firm to say we are consensus-driven and not going to agree to something unless we feel it will be beneficial to the vast majority of partners and practice groups,” responded Plishner. He said McCutchen Doyle will continue to look for a national merger partner. He said that over the last six weeks discussions between McCutchen Doyle and the Washington, D.C.-based Piper Marbury have focused on the compatibility of practice groups, client conflicts and administrative streamlining, as well as higher-level management issues such as equity partnership. While McCutchen Doyle has only equity partners, Piper Marbury has a system that allows for non-equity partners. “A whole variety of people have been on a variety of trips,” said Plishner, who said numerous visits have been made by practice group heads to Piper Marbury’s Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York offices. Piper Marbury, known for its real estate and franchise and distribution practices, reported profits per partner of $500,000 for 2000. McCutchen Doyle reported profits per partner of $505,000 for that year. “I think it would have been a good deal for both of them,” Zeughauser said.

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