Orrick and Pillsbury chairs call off plan for mega US law firm merger

City A.M. Reporter
ONE of the biggest proposed US law firm mergers of the year has been called off, the leaders of the two firms confirmed yesterday.

The potential merger between the California-based Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in New York would have created one of the largest law firms in the country.

But Orrick chairman Mitch Zuklie and Pillsbury chairman James Rishwain said in a joint interview that a conflict of interest between clients in Orrick’s public finance practice and Pillsbury’s tax, environmental and real estate practices killed the merger.

“We are disappointed that we are not able to bring this over the goal line,” said Zuklie.

The chairmen declined to identify specific clients, but Rishwain said Orrick represents government agencies that are sometimes on opposite sides of disputes with companies represented by Pillsbury.

According to Orrick’s website, the firm has historically advised governments and underwriters on big publicly funded projects including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Orrick, with about 1,000 lawyers, and Pillsbury, with more than 600 lawyers, were engaged in merger talks since July, the chairmen said. When the news was first reported in October, both sides expected a deal to come together within weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The new firm was to be named Orrick Pillsbury, according to the chairmen.