| March 25
March 25 The embattled Washington law and
lobbying firm Patton Boggs has signed a letter of intent to
merge with the larger Squire Sanders, according to three sources
familiar with the matter.
Patton Boggs leaders projected that any deal would take
place before the end of April, two of the sources said.
A letter of intent was signed earlier in March to formalize
the two firms' commitment to advancing merger talks, said the
sources, who did not want to be named because they are close to
The letter "doesn't guarantee anything, just that they are
moving forward at a very rapid speed," said one former Patton
Boggs lawyer. "They're on the verge of a merger."
Patton Boggs managing partner Edward Newberry did not
respond to a request for comment. Nor did Squire Sanders's chair
and global chief executive officer, James Maiwurm.
The merger talks, announced Feb. 26, are considered by
former Patton Boggs lawyers and legal experts as a
"make-or-break" deal for Patton Boggs because it has come under
growing financial strain.
In January, the firm reported revenue had fallen in 2013 by
12 percent compared to 2012, to $278 million, according to
figures in an internal memo obtained by Reuters.
The firm failed to give partners their monthly February
payments on time, according to three sources familiar with the
matter. Instead, it paid them during the first week in March.
"If this merger doesn't transpire, for whatever reason, the
odds are extremely high that the various (Patton Boggs) practice
groups will split to the four winds," said Bruce MacEwen, a law
firm management expert.
Already, a number of Patton Boggs partners have headed for
the exit. Layoffs in 2013, as well as partner defections, leave
the firm - which had 600 professionals in 2011 - with about 380
lawyers and consultants.
On Monday, law firm McGuire Woods announced it had hired
Rosemary Becchi, a Patton Boggs tax and employee benefits
partner in Washington. The head of Patton Boggs's commercial
litigation and antitrust group, Benjamin Chew, is joining
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, according to two people
familiar with the matter.
Some key partners, however, have agreed to stay. Robert
Luskin, a top white-collar defense partner, told the National
Law Journal earlier this month that he and his team had no
intention of leaving.
Squire Sanders, founded in Cleveland, has 1,300 lawyers.
MacEwen said if Patton Boggs loses too many partners, it
risks ruining the possible deal with Squire Sanders because
Squire Sanders is interested in acquiring a particular set of
partners whose practices would benefit a combined firm.
(Reporting by Casey Sullivan; Editing by Ted Botha and Leslie