Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is in talks to take on the bulk of Clifford Chance’s West Coast securities litigation practice as the magic circle giant continues to overhaul its troubled US practice.
The proposed deal would see nine partners from Clifford Chance’s San Francisco branch transfer to Orrick and leave Clifford Chance with only a handful of California lawyers two years after it launched the practice with a dramatic raid on Brobeck Phleger & Harrison.
High profile US partner Tower Snow is not thought to be part of the Orrick talks.
The deal would be a boost to Orrick, which last year saw potential West Coast mergers with Venture Law Group and Cooley Godward collapse. The firm is currently also in merger negotiations with 300-lawyer Washington DC practice Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman.
The discussions come against a backdrop of continued departures at Clifford Chance’s US practice. Most recently San Francisco-based Susan Muck and seven associates left for Fenwick & West — becoming the fourth California partner to quit CC this year.
Clifford Chance’s management is also known to be taking a tougher stance to bring the US practice it largely inherited from its take-over of New York’s Roger & Wells into line after years of disagreements over strategy and partner pay.
Clifford Chance managing partner Peter Cornell is currently in California to lead discussions with US partners about the practice’s future.