Brobeck Phleger & Harrison is desperately attempting to forge links with another law firm after talks with Hogan & Hartson collapsed last week
It is understood that Brobeck is already in talks with another US firm about a deal that, sources say, the management hopes will dilute the heavy burden of liabilities that are suffocating the US practice. The talks between Brobeck and the mystery firm were stepped up after it became clear that a merger with Hogan would be impossible due to conflicts. Brobeck has a history of acting for asbestos manufacturers such as Fibreboard, which took legal action against a swathe of insurers in the mid-1980s over their refusal to cover personal injury claims. Hogan, on the other hand, has a strong reputation in acting for insurers. The question of conflicts between the two firms first arose in the early 1990s, when Hogan pulled out of the tripartite alliance with Hale and Dorr and Brobeck. Yet, despite this knowledge of conflicts, both firms decided to go ahead with merger talks recently. Brobeck is now understood to be brokering a deal whereby the problem of hundreds of thousands of square feet of expensive excess space would be resolved by being taken over by a larger firm.