Bryan Cave & Arnold & Porter To Merge With Smaller Firms

Dec. 6 2011 – — Arnold & Porter LLP and Bryan Cave LLP said today they will merge with smaller law firms, continuing a trend toward scaled-down deals in legal services.

Arnold & Porter announced it will combine with 82-lawyer Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin PC by Jan. 1 to create a firm with more than 800 lawyers. Bryan Cave and Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, a 113-year-old firm with about 150 attorneys, will merge effective Jan. 1, the firms said in a statement.

The number of law-firm mergers jumped 79 percent in the first three quarters of the year, industry consultant Altman Weil Inc. reported. Fourteen law firm mergers and acquisitions were announced in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, 12 deals have been unveiled.

Arnold & Porter, based in Washington, is expanding its West Coast presence with the merger, which will offer San Francisco- based Howard Rice’s clients national and international capabilities, the firms said today in a statement. The combined firm will have more than 160 attorneys in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, according to the statement.

Stronger Presence

“We are not only strengthening our presence in California, but we are doing it with individuals who complement the skill sets we offer elsewhere in the firm,” Arnold & Porter Chairman Tom Milch said in the statement.

Arnold & Porter has 700 lawyers working in nine offices across the U.S. and Europe. All the attorneys at Howard Rice, founded in 1954, are in one office, said John Buchanan, a firm spokesman. About 26 staff members will be cut as a result of the merger, Buchanan said.

Bryan Cave’s deal with Denver-based Holme allows it to gain traction in the Rocky Mountain area including access to energy and natural resource clients. The combined law firm will operate under the Bryan Cave name and will have more than 1,100 lawyers in more than 30 offices globally. The merger will make Bryan Cave one of the 25 largest firms globally, according to the statement.

“Extending our geographic reach while expanding the range of our services in California are important steps in our firm’s long-term growth,” Bryan Cave Chairman Don G. Lents said in the statement.

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