Statement by Orrick/Akin Gump About Ending Merger Talks Comes Up Short

Someone inside BigLaw will talk eventually to the media (or an influential legal blog) about why these merger talks did not continue. So, I’m surprised that Orrick and Akin Gump didn’t go a bit further with their joint statement released today:

“Orrick and Akin Gump have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed.”

This statement begs the question: “Why didn’t you proceed? ”

Whenever merger talks end, usually it’s because of either economics, serious client conflicts, firm culture or all of the above. The two firms could have gone slightly further in their statement by saying there was a “difference of opinion” regarding one of these issues.

In 2007, when Orrick and Dewey (then Dewey Ballantine) ended their merger discussions, the two firms issued this statement:

“Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Dewey Ballantine LLP have jointly decided to end merger discussions. Both firms are successful, global firms that saw great potential in a combination. However, a combination of this size and scope posed significant challenges. While both firms tried their best to work through these challenges, we were unable to bring the merger to completion. No one issue led us to this point, and each firm leaves this process with great respect for the leaders and partners of the other.”

OK..the 2007 statement at least says that it was not “one issue.”

What’s also interesting is that Orrick and Dewey issued a lengthy joint news release when they started discussions in October 2006.

I welcome other thoughts on these joint statements, particularly from those in law firm management as well as from my law firm PR/marketing colleagues.