Cooley becomes hot property

Bryan Cave’s and Squire Sanders & Dempsey’s much-hyped proposed merger may have collapsed last month, but any concern over the validity of tie-ups has not prevented Cooley Godward from emerging as the hottest property in the market.

The Silicon Valley-based firm was thought to have ended its long-running search for a merger partner after announcing its surprise tie-up with New York litigation boutique Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman, as first reported on www.thelawyer.com (22 August).

But talk has now turned to another bedmate – Los Angeles-based Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan. Although not everyone is happy with the prospect of another link-up.

It is understood that, while Alschuler partner Marshall Grossman is pushing hard for a merger with either Cooley or another larger firm, the firm’s head of media and entertainment Larry Stein and partner Robert Kahan are in simultaneous discussions to launch a Santa Monica office affiliated with New York-based Dreier. An insider has releveaed that the partnership is split over which side to take.

Either way, Cooley’s merger with Kronish will be effective from 1 October, creating a 550-lawyer national US firm, to be known as Cooley Godward Kronish.

Cooley, which is traditionally a technology and biotechnology-centred firm boasting 440 lawyers, has made no secret of its merger ambitions in an effort to reposition itself as a national full-service firm.

The firm must have stated a very persuasive case to the 110-lawyer Kronish, given that the New York-based firm has long been regarded as one of the city’s most fiercely independent firms.