Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick has announced its acquisition of San Diego-based Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, creating one of the largest law firms in the United States.

Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, a San Diego law firm with numerous clients in technology industries, today will announce its acquisition by Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick, creating one of the nation’s largest law firms.

The merger had been widely discussed in legal circles for weeks, and two weeks ago principals of the two firms confirmed they were in serious talks.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal was sealed yesterday afternoon when Gray Cary partners voted in favor of merging into Piper Rudnick. Piper Rudnick’s partners previously had endorsed the transaction.

The two firms hope to complete the deal by Jan. 1.

The resulting entity will be named Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, will operate 20 offices in major U.S. cities, and will have revenue of about $800 million annually. It will have 1,300 lawyers.

According to the 2003 AmLaw 100 list by American Lawyer magazine, that would make the new firm the sixth largest in the country.

“We represent technology companies at every state of development – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – and this will help us provide them with better service,” said Terry O’Malley, chairman and chief executive of Gray Cary, the largest law firm based in San Diego.

Most of Gray Cary’s 380 attorneys work out of cities along the West Coast. The merger will give them access to Piper Rudnick offices and resources in New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The deal also fills a crucial gap for Gray Cary, which has not had an office in Los Angeles. Piper Rudnick has an office there with about 50 of its 975 attorneys.

“We handle dozens of cases each year in Los Angeles, but now we’ll have an increased presence there to expand our business,” O’Malley said.

He said the civic involvement and philanthropy that Gray Cary has engaged in in San Diego since the firm’s formation in 1927 will not change because of the merger.

Simultaneous to the negotiations with Gray Cary, Piper Rudnick has been negotiating a merger with London-based DLA, which would create an international megafirm with more than 3,000 attorneys in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The firms hope to complete that merger by Jan. 1 as well.

O’Malley will become managing partner for the United States in the new firm, sharing that title with Jeff Liss of Piper Rudnick’s Chicago office.

Piper Rudnick’s Frank Burch Jr. and Lee Miller will serve as co-chairmen of the new firm.

O’Malley and three undetermined members of Gray Cary will join the new firm’s executive board. The size of that board has yet to be determined.

“Gray Cary will be fully represented throughout the new firm,” O’Malley said. “We will have Gray Cary people on all the key committees.”

He said the Gray Cary name was incorporated into the title of the new firm because of the extensive work the firm has done to establish itself as a top legal firm for technology companies.

“The firms believe that brand recognition is important and we want to use that to increase our attraction to technology companies,” he said.

Other, midsized law firms in San Diego said they don’t expect the transaction to trigger other mergers.

Scroll to Top