It was to be the largest West Coast tie-up in US history, but the merger bid between California giants Orrick Herrington and Cooley Godward has collapsed. The problem? “Ego and politics”.

The talks broke off July 24 with management at both firms claiming the split was reached by mutual agreement, despite earlier reports that a merger deal could have been finalised by the end of July.

Commenting on the split, one senior Orricks partner said “There are always people and egos and politics in these things, but I assure you, in the end, we just both shook hands and went our ways.

In contrast, West Coast rivals claimed the deal was sunk by Cooleys’ fears that the proposed tie-up would be a takeover by Orricks. Partners have previously said that the Palo Alto-based firm’s corporate partners had remained ambivalent towards the merger, despite months of talks — in contrast to strong support from Cooleys’ litigation team.

The collapse of the merger, which would have created a top 10 US firm with more than 1,000 lawyers, leaves Cooleys to continue its hunt for a merger with a major US rival.

The firm, which has been hard hit by the collapse in its core corporate technology market, has previously entered into abortive merger talks with New York firms Proskauer Rose and Pennie & Edmonds.

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