Dewey Orrick merger given green light

The management and executive committees of Dewey Ballantine and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe have recommended the firms’ merger to their respective partnerships.

The new firm will be named Dewey Orrick, but will retain Orrick’s “O” brand. It is hoped that the partners will vote on the merger in mid-December and complete the merger by 1 January 2007.

Dewey’s London managing partner Fred Gander told The Lawyer: “We’ve cleared the major issues, such as firm name and senior management, and now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty.”

Dewey chairman Morton Pierce and Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter will be co-chairs of the combined firm, with Baxter serving as presiding partner. Baxter will be more involved with day-to-day management whereas Pierce will continue his M&A practice

“Both the executive committees have recommended the transaction favourably and we’re entering the phase of due diligence and getting all the partners to meet each other,” said Gander

If the merger comes to fruition the combined firm would house nearly 1,500 lawyers and come close to $1bn (£530m) in revenue. Its London presence, meanwhile, would top £33m in turnover.

As revealed by The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report 2006, Dewey has the larger London office of the two firms’ in terms of turnover, generating £20.3m in 2005-06.

San Francisco-based Orrick reported around £13m in London; but that figure will be boosted this year by the addition of Coudert Brothers’ London office, which joined last year.

Orrick takes the lead on headcount with 60 lawyers, compared with Dewey’s 45 lawyers and nine fee-earners.

The combined firm would have one of the largest US presences in Europe with 300 lawyers spread across seven offices.