Patton Boggs partners to vote on merger: sources

NEW YORK Fri May 16, 2014 1:48pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A week after concluding a controversial settlement with Chevron Corp, law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs is seeking to close the biggest law firm merger so far this year by as early as next week, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

A former Patton Boggs lawyer said the details of the merger with the 1,300-lawyer Squire Sanders firm was being presented to Patton Boggs partners on Friday, and they would vote on it by Wednesday. He and another source said the new firm would be called Squire Patton Boggs.

Patton Boggs managing partner Edward Newberry and general counsel Charles "Rick" Talisman did not respond to requests for comment. Nor did Squire Sanders chairman James Maiwurm or a spokesman for the firm.

The 300-lawyer Patton Boggs firm has been in discussions with Squire Sanders since February after seeing revenue wane and partners defect in 2013.

The former Patton Boggs lawyer said some partners were being told they would have to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the new firm, starting in January 2015. The merger, if approved, was expected to take effect on June 1, he said.

He said the name of the new firm indicated Squire Sanders must feel there was brand value in the Patton Boggs name, and that it had not been tarnished by the Chevron case.

On May 7, Patton Boggs settled a lawsuit brought by Chevron claiming the law firm tried to enforce a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment on behalf of Ecuadorean villagers against the oil company. Chevron claimed Patton Boggs knew the judgment was obtained through fraudulent means.

Patton Boggs agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle the claims and expressed regret for its involvement in the case, a move that set the stage for the merger, according to people familiar with the matter.

If completed, the merger would provide financial relief to Patton Boggs, which saw revenue decline 12 percent from 2012 to 2013, to $278 million.

Another former Patton Boggs lawyer, as well as a person involved in the deal, said a merger would almost certainly lead to layoffs at the firm.

(Reporting By Casey Sullivan; Editing by Ted Botha and Noeleen Walder)

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