Cooley Godward eyes up Bird & Bird for UK merger

US West Coast firm Cooley Godward is closing in on Bird & Bird

The US firm is testing the water for future merger talks through ongoing referral work, according to a source close to the firm.
The two firms have been working together since last summer, and Cooley is considering its international expansion strategies.
The firm has worked with Olswang, Bristows and Nabarro Nathanson as well as Bird & Bird. But Cooley has recently closed in on Bird & Bird because of the firm’s European network and similar level of profits per partner, as well as its new economy expertise.
Last year, the West Coast firm recorded profits per partner of £498,000. Bird & Bird’s profits per partner were £402,000, representing a good level of parity for a US and a UK firm.
Bird & Bird has European offices in Paris, Brussels, the Netherlands and Sweden, as well its Asian base in Hong Kong. The firm also has plans to expand into Germany, Italy and Spain.
Cooley, on the other hand, has a presence only in the US.
Bird & Bird managing partner David Kerr refused to confirm that the firm was on the verge of talks with Cooley. However, he did admit that Cooley would be a good match for Bird & Bird. “There is a clear temptation to make an analogy between us and them,” he said. “We both act for large companies, which a lot of the Silicon Valley firms don’t do so much.”
In February 2000, Bird & Bird’s very public merger talks with US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe broke down. “We learnt a lot of lessons from our experiences with Orrick,” said Kerr. “We came out of the discussions with Orrick a stronger and more focused firm,” he added.
Cooley was unavailable for comment.