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The merger of San Francisco’s McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen and Boston’s Bingham Dana, seven months in the making, propels the new firm into the top tier of firms in terms of size. Partners from both firms approved the merger Wednesday afternoon in two unanimous votes. The new firm, to be named Bingham McCutchen, will boast more than 800 lawyers at 10 offices including New York, Washington, D.C., London and Singapore. Under the terms of the deal, Jay Zimmerman, the managing partner of Bingham Dana, will chair the new firm. Donn Pickett, the current chairman of McCutchen Doyle, will assume the role of vice-chairman when the deal takes effect July 1. In a conference call from McCutchen Doyle’s San Francisco office Thursday morning, the two leaders outlined the respective strengths of each firm and the benefits of a combination. “We have understood for some time the need to grow bigger, to grow stronger, to put together the right mix of practices,” said Zimmerman. “As part of that national progression, the next step, we felt, was to look at this.” According to McCutchen Doyle’s Pickett, the new firm is on track to pull in revenues “something north” of $425 million this year. The combined revenues of both firms in 2000 were $351 million. “McCutchen is going to be part of a whole different market,” said Lynn Pasahow, a partner at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Fenwick & West and formerly with McCutchen Doyle. “They are now an international law firm in the top tier in size of firms. They are no longer a regional firm and that was a goal in this merger.” The deal gives each firm an important puzzle piece in terms of practices and geography. Bingham Dana, a predominantly East Coast firm, is best known for its corporate practices, particularly in global insolvency. Prior to the merger, Bingham’s California presence was limited to its three-attorney Los Angeles office. McCutchen Doyle, on the other hand, is a litigation shop with offices throughout California that’s long sought an ingress into the New York market. “The fit couldn’t be better,” said Hildebrandt International Chairman Brad Hildebrandt, who helped organize the deal. “What the new firm has is a very strong national litigation practice. McCutchen is now part of a firm that has a very strong corporate finance practice.” The move caps a long, and arduous, effort by McCutchen Doyle to expand through a merger. Last year, the firm was far along in merger discussions with what is now Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick, but the deal unraveled at the eleventh hour. In contrast, Bingham Dana has a history of mergers and acquisitions. Over the past five years, the firm has swallowed several firms, including Marks & Murase, Hebb & Gitlin, and most recently Richards & O’Neil. This has allowed Bingham to grow from fewer than 200 lawyers in 1995 to more than 500 today.The estimated cost of the merger with McCutchen Doyle is less than one percent of revenues, said Bingham’s Zimmerman. He said that there are no plans for layoffs as a result of the union. One legal consultant pointed to some important similarities in each firm’s financial figures. In 2000, Bingham Dana reported revenues of $570,000 per lawyer, compared to McCutchen Doyle’s $520,000. “To have two numbers like that shows careful thinking going on,” said Norman Clark, a principal at Altman Weil Inc. “If you have two firms and you have a significant difference in revenues per lawyer, that means in most cases that you have a healthy firm trying to make a sick firm well.” According to Hildebrandt, the deal structure was completed in a relatively short period of time. The greater part of the seven-month process involved getting partners to meet each other and building support for the deal among the ranks. Attorneys at McCutchen Doyle said the two firms proved a good match on a cultural level. “You go to one of these dinner meetings, and if you didn’t know you’d have a hard time picking which [lawyers] were from McCutchen Doyle and which were from Bingham,” said Edward “Doc” Merrill, a real estate partner in McCutchen Doyle’s Walnut Creek, Calif., office. “Now the hard part begins,” said Bingham’s Zimmerman, “which is combining the two firms and getting the practice groups as integrated as we’d like to see them.”

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