Legal Business Blogs

Pillsbury and Chadbourne in merger talks as NY’s legal mid-tier continues to consolidate

US firms Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Chadbourne & Parke are in early merger talks, with the potential to create a 1,000 lawyer firm.  

San Francisco founded Pillsbury, which sits in the top-75 firms of the Global 100, generated revenues of $560m in 2014, while profit per equity partner (PEP) stood at $1.2m. 

New York-based Chadbourne, on the other hand, has eleven offices worldwide and focuses on cross-border transactions and disputes in emerging and growth markets. The firm’s core practice areas include project finance, energy, litigation, corporate, bankruptcy and financial restructuring, insurance and reinsurance, tax and real estate, and it is particularly known for its work in energy matters across Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The merger discussions would not be the first for Pillsbury which in 2013 was in talks with US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which would have created a firm of about 1,800 lawyers with revenues of around $1.4bn, putting it in the top 15 law firms in the world by fee income. The deal was called off in November of that year, after a conflict of interest emerged between clients in Orrick’s public finance practice and Pillsbury’s tax, environmental and real estate practices.

Pillsbury’s lawyer headcount fell in March this year, after 15 lawyers quit to join Winston & Strawn, with the firm’s Abu Dhabi managing partner Stephen Jurgenson, London-based co-head of energy, infrastructure and projects James Simpson and New York-based structured products chief Jeffrey Stern exiting the firm.

If the deal goes through, the combination will see the US’ legal mid-tier consolidate as more firms join hands to keep up pace with the globalisation of law. In late 2014, Morgan Lewis & Bockius acquired Boston-based firm Bingham McCutchen’s assets after the latter firm suffered major losses in mortgage-backed securities and restructuring work.