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BCG News - 4/26/04

4/26/04

Hale and Dorr and Wilmer Cutler come to terms in "merger of equals"

More than 1,000 attorneys will be practicing under the banner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

and William J. Perlstein, managing partners of Hale and Dorr and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, respectively. The two will share co-managing partner titles at the merged firm, which, with approximately $700 million in projected revenues, will likely rank as a top 10 firm. The firm will have a strong 475-attorney presence in the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area, and a 325-attorney presence in Boston, the two firms' home cities. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr will also have a 100-attorney New York City office and 135 attorneys stationed in Western Europe. One of the elements of the deal has Hale and Dorr's junior partners joining the merged firm as of counsel attorneys, according to Legal Week. The merger is the biggest in the United States since 2001, when Sidley & Austin merged with Brown & Wood to create what is now a 1,500-attorney firm. The merged firm will use the domain name www.wilmerhale.com. Firm Press Release, 4/20/04

BCG News - 4/26/04

Haynes and Boone opens New York office
Two lateral partners and two relocated native New Yorkers will head the newly-formed New York City office of Haynes and Boone, helping the Texas firm establish its second East Coast office. Kenneth Bezozo, a corporate tax attorney and co-chair of Haynes & Boone's business transactions group, will team with Judith Elkin, a bankruptcy attorney and co-chair of the firm's finance group, to head the new office. Also playing a major role in the opening of the office are lateral hires John Morrison, a longtime partner at Shearman & Sterling, and Gilbert Porter, who served as the co-chair of both the global finance practice and the project finance practice at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Both Morrison and Porter are bringing along one associate from their former firms. Haynes & Boone plans to grow the office organically through practice group and individual hires and wants to bring on more people like Morrison and Porter who can help the firm tap into the financial structuring field. The firm now has nine offices, including others in Washington, DC, in Mexico City and six in Texas. Firm Press Release, 4/21/04

Akin Gump continues to stress energy practice growth with hiring of new practice head
John P. Cogan, Jr. will join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as the new head of the global energy transactions team, bringing the firm further along in its plan to become the world's foremost energy transactions firm. Cogan comes to Akin Gump from King & Spalding's London office, where he headed the firm's global projects & transactions group and focused on international energy law. He will split his time between Akin Gump's London office and its headquarters in Houston. The hire is the second announcement of a major energy attorney addition in as many months, with Vinson & Elkin's Douglas Glass and two others also joining the London office. Firm Press Release, 4/26/04

White & Case gets the government go-ahead on Beijing office
The Government of China granted New York-based White & Case approval to establish an office in Beijing earlier this month, the firm's third in the country. White & Case has been active in the China region for more than 25 years, having established its Hong Kong office in 1978 and recently adding an office in Shanghai in 2001. The new office will focus on corporate work, and the firm hopes that it will get a closer position to the country's leaders by being in the capital city. The Beijing office will be initially staffed by attorneys from its other offices in China, but is looking for a prominent partner to head the office. The Hong Kong office, which serves as the base of operations for the firm's China practice, staffs approximately 25 attorneys. Firm Press Release, Legal Week, 4/23/04

Salans gains approval to open Shanghai office after six month wait
Salans, an international law firm founded by French and American attorneys, finally opened the last of the offices it acquired following the dissolution of Altheimer & Gray last year, ending an almost six-month waiting period when the Chinese government granted approval for the firm to practice in Shanghai. The firm acquired offices in Prague, Bratislava, Istanbul, Bucharest and Shanghai last October as Altheimer & Gray folded, but has had to put the opening of the Shanghai office on hold while waiting for the Chinese government's approval. The office will have one partner and nine other resident attorneys and focus on corporate and real estate matters, as well as dispute resolution, among other things. Salans now has 14 international offices. Firm Press Release, 4/04

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
could announce layoffs after office closing

Following the closing of international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's Bangkok office, the firm is currently pondering what to do with the office's 81 staff members, including three partners and 22 other attorneys. Legal Week reported that the firm's management decided to close the office because it was not feasible to invest as much as it would need to in order to keep the office afloat. The staff members may be relocated, either to another of the firm's Asian offices or another firm entirely, or laid off. The Bangkok office was opened in 1994. Legal Week, 4/22/04

Lewis Brisbois makes its way into the Southwest
Los Angeles-based Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith has taken on 13 attorneys from the Arizona firm of Mariano & Allen and will use that personnel to establish offices in two of the Southwest's most prominent legal markets, Phoenix and Tucson. Included among the hires is Carl Mariano, one of the small firm's founding members. Lewis Brisbois recently opened an office in Las Vegas and Robert Lewis, founding partner of Lewis Brisbois has stated that his firm will grow according to the demands of its clients. The firm now has approximately 450 attorneys in ten offices. The Recorder, 4/21/04

New Orleans firm actively seeking merger
Sessions, Fishman & Nathan, a Louisiana firm with offices in New Orleans and Metairie, is actively seeking a merger partner after the majority of the attorneys in the firm's insurance defense practice left to form their own firm. The departing insurance defense practice, which includes the head of the group, David Salley, and three other partners, two associates and one of counsel attorney, left to form a firm called Salley Hite Rivera & Mercer because it did not want to be part of a merger. Sessions, Fishman & Nathan might now be able to easier locate a merger partner because it will not have to deal with the conflict complications that a strong insurance defense practice might present. Sessions, Fishman & Nathan currently has 19 attorneys and the firm's partners believe it could greatly enhance another firm's status in the New Orleans area and provide its own clients a broader practice through a merger. New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/20/04

Latham & Watkins grabs practice head from Skadden
Latham & Watkins announced the hiring of the fourth finance partner from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in the last two months, as former Skadden West Coast banking and institutional investing practice head John Mendez gets set to join Latham. Last month, a three partner group that specialized in leveraged finance from Skadden's New York office joined Latham's Big Apple office. Mendez will join the same leveraged finance practice group as his East Coast colleagues. Latham insists that the latest hires in this practice have equipped the firm to take on the most complex finance work available. Firm Press Release, 4/20/04

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