It remains unclear how far the discussions have advanced, but if a merger is completed, the combined firm would have more than 1,200 lawyers and hit nearly $1 billion in revenues, based on the most recent Am Law 100.
“There is much that needs to be discussed so it is still premature to speculate on a potential outcome at this time,” said Morton Pierce, chairman of Dewey Ballantine’s management and executive committees. “I will say that I am intrigued by the possibilities to create one of the largest and most dynamic firms in the marketplace.”
“We think very highly of Dewey Ballantine,” said Ralph Baxter Jr., Orrick’s chairman and CEO. “Like Orrick, it is an historic firm with many strengths. Talking with each other makes great sense. And that is what we are doing at this stage.”
On the surface at least, the two firms are fairly closely matched. Both posted similar profits per partner last year: Orrick’s were at $1.24 million per equity partner, and Dewey’s hit $1.23 million. Revenue per lawyer was $765,000 at Orrick and $780,000 at Dewey. And both have deep ties to financial services clients.
The two wouldn’t be tripping over each other, however. Dewey’s historic strength has been in representing investment banks in mergers and acquisitions. The firm ranked No. 1 in volume and value of deals as counsel to investment advisers, according to The American Lawyer’s Corporate Scorecard. Orrick’s corporate strength is in representing underwriters and issuers of municipal bonds, asset-backed securities and mortgage-backed securities. It consistently ranks at the top of municipal finance league tables.