Law firm mergers get delayed or derailed for all manner of reasons – disagreements, partner dissatisfaction, negotiated pay deals – but how would such a deal be delayed or derailed as a result of Ecudadorian villagers? Well, that appears to be the case with the proposed merger between Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders.
The merger has been well anticipated with DC-based Patton Boggs and the global practice of Squire Sanders, however SS have now voted to suspend matters as at last week. Huh?
It follows the filing of a motion in the New York federal court by Ecuadorean villagers who are grossly dissatisfied with Patton Boggs’ role in the dispute between oil giant Chevron and the group. The motion is for the court to revisit the decision made on May 7 and which settled the claims that the firm attempted to enforce an $18 billion pollution decision against Chevron while representing the villagers.
Reuters reported that Patton Boggs avoided a financial cliff on Friday when a larger law firm agreed to acquire many of its partners and its name, which for decades was synonymous with influence in Washington, D.C.
The acquisition of Patton Boggs by Squire Sanders, a firm with roots in Ohio, followed furious talks that a day earlier appeared on the verge of collapse.
Late on Friday, the two firms announced they had reached a deal, concluding negotiations that had stretched back at least to February. They said they would begin operating under the name Squire Patton Boggs effective June 1.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the combined entity would rank 23rd among U.S. law firms with more than $1 billion in revenue, according to financial figures in the American Lawyer and a Patton Boggs memo obtained by Reuters.
Patton Boggs was viewed by many in the legal industry, including former partners, as being in need of a rescue, despite a storied history of representing U.S. presidential campaigns, major corporations and governments around the world. Its revenues were slipping and its headcount had shrunk by about half since 2011, down to 300 lawyers.
The firm’s problems included becoming entangled in a complex case in which Ecuadorean villagers sought to enforce an $18 billion pollution judgment against Chevron Corp (CVX.N). Once seen by the firm as a potential source of lucrative legal fees, the case became a liability and Patton Boggs agreed this month to pay the oil company a $15 million settlement after a court found the judgment had been obtained fraudulently.
Its problems also stemmed from the drying up of one major case, defending Ne