Boston-based law firm Bingham McCutchen is the latest law firm facing problems, after partners have defected and the 123 year old firm with a proud history faces declining fortunes and an uncertain future.
Changing fortunes in the legal industry, which has fought against reduced demand for legal services and a changing landscape for law service has buffeted many firms.
Bingham McCutchen LLP, which has handled cases from the Pentagon Papers to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has watched more than 50 partners leave the firm since last year and cut 225 lawyers since 2012, according to legal trade journals.
Revenues last year declined for the first time in a generation following more than a decade of rapid expansion, aggressive acquisitions, and rising costs.
Now, Bingham’s best chance for long-term survival appears to be selling itself to a Philadelphia law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bokius LLP. Bankruptcy is a distant, and far less desirable, option.
In his first interview on the firm’s status, Steven Browne, the recently named managing partner, said Bingham is exploring a variety of options, including the remote possibility of bankruptcy.
“I’m not going to pretend things aren’t out there and the world isn’t a real world,” Browne said.
“It’s certainly not any strategic alternative that I’m interested in pursuing,” he added.
He declined to comment on the merger proposal, as did Morgan Lewis. Bingham’s remaining 307 partners are scheduled to vote on the merger in the coming weeks.
Bingham McCutchen traces its history in Boston back to 1891.