(Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM.)
Roughly 750 lawyers and staffers from Bingham McCutchen will be absorbed into Morgan, Lewis & Bockius under the terms of an agreement finalized Sunday night between the two Am Law 100 firms.
In addition to the 226 Bingham McCutchen partners unveiled as heading to Morgan Lewis a little more than a week ago, the latter will take on 525 other lawyers, legal professionals and staffers, many of whom are among the 300 employees recently extended offer letters by Morgan Lewis.
“In Morgan Lewis, we have found a perfect new home,” said a statement by Bingham McCutchen managing partner Steven Browne, who assumed leadership of the soon-to-be-defunct firm on June 1. “We already serve many of the same clients, but we will now have the added resources to assist them in new ways and in new markets, including in Europe and Latin America, and in the center of the United States.”
Jami McKeon, who officially took over as chair of Morgan Lewis on Oct. 1, said in a tandem statement that the two firms share complementary practices and industries of focus. After absorbing its new Bingham McCutchen acquisitions, Morgan Lewis will now have roughly 2,000 lawyers in 28 offices around the world.
“Our strategic decisions have always been driven, first and foremost, by our clients’ needs,” added McKeon. “We continue to build a firm that is capable of mobilizing teams to partner with clients on their most pressing legal and business challenges wherever they arise around the globe.”
Morgan Lewis has traditionally eschewed full-scale mergers in favor of strategic acquisitions, as noted earlier this fall by sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer, which last week delved into the structure of the firm’s current deal with the bulk of Bingham McCutchen. After the mass hire, Morgan Lewis has its eye on $2 billion a year in gross revenue. (The firm had nearly $1.3 billion in gross revenue in 2013, a year in which Bingham McCutchen saw its gross revenue slide 12.6 percent to $762 million, according to data compiled by The American Lawyer.)
Not everyone from Bingham McCutchen will join the Morgan Lewis fold. The Am Law Daily reported last week that up to 30 marketing and document review employees in Bingham McCutchen’s Lexington, Ky., back office are being let go. And then there are those Bingham McCutchen partners heading to other Am Law 200 firms.
The Recorder, a sibling publication, reported last week on Blank Rome bringing on two corporate litigators from Bingham McCutchen in Los Angeles. Carlton Fields Jorden Burt picked up the now-defunct firm’s entire national real estate and commercial finance group in Hartford, according to fellow sibling publication The Connecticut Law Tribune. And Reuters reported a week ago that Bingham McCutchen’s antitrust and trade regulation cochair William Berkowitz is poised to join Seyfarth Shaw in Boston.
Morgan Lewis also won’t have an easy task collecting on all of Bingham McCutchen’s outstanding accounts receivable and work-in-progress, which it hopes will pay down the legacy firm’s $100 million debt load and avoid years of bankruptcy proceedings and clawback claims that have plagued partners from other busted firms like Dewey & LeBoeuf, Howrey and Thelen.
The Litigation Daily, a sibling publication, reported Friday on a Chapter 11 filing by Aereo, an online video streaming startup backed by media mogul Barry Diller. Among the trio of Am Law 200 firms listed among the company’s largest unsecured creditors is Bingham McCutchen, which is owed $105,000 for legal and lobbying services provided by the firm.