Puzzle-Mergers

Detroit-based Clark Hill is in merger talks with a well-known Am Law 200 firm in Texas, Strasburger & Price, according to a recent report by Texas Lawbook.

The report said a merger, while not finalized, could be completed by March. That would create a firm of nearly 600 lawyers that together would have brought in a combined $287 million in gross revenue, according to figures gleaned by ALM Intelligence for the upcoming Am Law 200.

A Strasburger spokeswoman declined to comment on potential mergers or hires. A Clark Hill spokesman said the 403-lawyer firm is routinely in merger discussions but that “there is nothing to report about any specific conversations.”

The website “www.clarkhillstrasburger.com” was anonymously registered in November, according to a database of internet domain names.

Clark Hill has actively pursued mergers in recent years, with its most recent acquisition coming last July when it absorbed 100-lawyer West Coast firm Morris Polich & Purdy. In 2013, Clark Hill merged with Thorp Reed & Armstrong, another 100-lawyer firm based in Pittsburgh.

The American Lawyer reported last month on Clark Hill opening an office in Dublin after absorbing lawyers from the local arm of London-based Kerman & Co.

Clark Hill has also done other small deals in recent years, bolting on seven-lawyer Chicago litigation shop Martin, Brown, Sullivan, Roadman & Hartnett in 2016 and picking up Phoenix-based construction boutique Fox & Associates in 2014.

Strasburger would be the largest firm to combine with Clark Hill in recent years. Founded in 1939, the Dallas-based firm is known for its corporate and litigation practices in Texas. But it has been at a standstill in recent years, with gross revenue and head count down from $99 million and 211 lawyers, respectively, in 2014, to $93.8 million and 188 lawyers in 2017.

Strasburger, which acquired a 30-lawyer San Antonio firm in 2011, has six offices in Texas and three other outposts in Mexico City, New York and Washington, D.C.

Clark Hill, meanwhile, has its roots in Detroit and four offices across Michigan, as well as another 12 U.S. locations stretching from New Jersey to San Diego. The firm’s first international office is the Dublin outpost it opened late last year. Clark Hill, bolstered by its union with Morris Police, saw its gross revenue rise from $151.5 million in 2016, to $193.6 million last year.

Profits per partner and revenue per lawyer at Clark Hill stood at $525,000 and $480,000, respectively, in 2017, compared with $421,000 and $500,000 at Strasburger.

A firm with $287 million in gross revenue last year, such as a would-be Clark Hill Strasburger, would have ranked No. 112 in the Am Law Second Hundred, just behind what is now Andrews Kurth Kenyon. That firm, formed a year ago after Andrews Kurth absorbed the bulk of former intellectual property boutique Kenyon & Kenyon, has been engaged in ongoing merger talks with Hunton & Williams. In the wake of those discussions, which have resulted in a signed agreement, Andrews Kurth Kenyon has been busy shedding lawyers to other firms eager to expand in the Lone Star State.

Texas Lawyer reported Tuesday on Haynes and Boone hiring Andrews Kurth Kenyon corporate partner Bill McDonald in Houston, only a day after Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe prepared to take up to 25 public finance lawyers from Andrews Kurth Kenyon in the same city. DLA Piper picked up three Andrews Kurth Kenyon employment law partners last week in Dallas, where Katten Muchin Rosenman just opened an office with seven more Andrews Kurth Kenyon defectors. Shearman & Sterling and White & Case are also reportedly looking at making hires from Andrews Kurth Kenyon.

Strasburger’s proposed union with Clark Hill is not the only merger in Texas that could close within the next two months. Foley & Lardner and Gardere Wynne Sewell, which have been mulling a proposed combination since late 2017, are expected to finalize their nuptials by April 1, said a source briefed on the matter.

Additional reporting by Christine Simmons in New York.