Heller Ehrman announces dissolution as rivals move to pick up star teams
San Francisco law firm Heller Ehrman is to dissolve after months of speculation about its future. The firm's chairman, Matthew Larrabee, told the partnership late last week (25 September) that dissolution was unavoidable. The collapse followed a series of failed merger talks between the 118-year-old law firm and rival US players including Mayer Brown and Baker & McKenzie. Law firms are now scrabbling over Heller's practice both in the US and internationally. Morriston & Foerster, Bakers, Proskauer Rose and Vinson & Elkins are among the law firms currently being linked with Heller teams in the US, along with Cooley Godward Kronish. West Coast-based Cooley is also thought to be considering a London launch, with Heller's London venture law team seen by rivals as a good fit. The team, which includes corporate partners Richard Eaton, Christopher Grew and Struan Penwarden, joined in early 2007 from WilmerHale. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is also understood to be interested in a number of Heller's partners in the US. The US technology leader is additionally being touted by some as a possible contender for some of Heller's London office, even though it currently has only one international office - in Shanghai. One City recruiter said: "It is never nice to see a decent firm go under but the opportunities this represents to firms looking to break into the London market don't come around often."Heller's employees will be paid for the next 60 days but partners will not receive their September draw. See Editor's Blog, page 23.
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