Another large law firm merger is on the way, evidencing continued pressure on law firms in the US with Boston-based Bingham McCutchen seeking to merge, having sought at least four potential merger partners in the past three months according to a Reuters report.
In recent weeks, Bingham has approached Chicago-based Winston & Strawn, according to three people familiar with both firms, as well as Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis & Bockius, two other sources said.
In the spring, Bingham reached out to O’Melveny & Myers and Morrison & Foerster, according to one of the sources, although both firms rejected Bingham’s overture.
The outreach by 800-lawyer Bingham to its competitors exemplifies the ills facing many major U.S. law firms, which have been forced to consolidate because of sluggish demand as major corporations slash their budgets and demand that lawyers discount fees.
“There is a shrinking legal market and the impetus to join forces to put yourself in a better position to compete is pretty strong,” said Carter Phillips, the chairman of Sidley Austin, who has hired large groups of Bingham lawyers over the past year.
Bingham’s problems have been exacerbated by a changing business landscape over the last five years, since the financial crisis, with legal work in practices like securities and bankruptcies not as lucrative as it once was, legal experts and lawyers have said.