Grapevine

Well, that didn’t take long.

No sooner had Squire Sanders & Dempsey and Coudert Brothers started conducting due diligence on each other to create their “merger of equals”, than the whole caboodle was, we’re told, dead in the water.

Why has this happened? Apparently, after foraging around in each other’s lockers, one of the firms suddenly came over all chilly-footed about hooking up.

To be honest, the idea of a merger between the two seemed sort of whack anyway, mainly because Squire Sanders and Coudert Brothers appeared to have their own ideas of what the merger would mean.

To explain this, you have to take into account the missive that Coudert Brothers sent to its partners a couple of months ago regarding the tie-up.

In this memo, or if you like, this love letter to the god of self-delusion, the firm explained: “In no respect would there be an absorption of one side by the other.”

Then, in the same paragraph: “…if a combination with [Squire Sanders] were to occur, the name of the new firm would begin with Coudert.”

Erm…doesn’t that kind of insinuate a contradiction? And what if Squire Sanders wanted its name to go first?

More sensibly in all this talk of a “merger of equals”, Squire Sanders outstripped Coudert Brothers in many major respects, including turnover, profits per partner and lawyers.

There certainly seemed to be some backing off from the Squire Sanders side a couple of weeks ago. One lawyer told us that his firm was talking to others, and added: “I don’t think we had an in-depth analysis of the possibilities of a merger.”

That’s not how Coudert Brothers saw it. In June it was on “step 9” of the process, with the next step being a decision to progress to the final stage of the merger.

It’s probably a good thing that things have been nipped in the bud now. Maybe Coudert Brothers will use the opportunity to address its European practice, where there has been significant lawyer movement in the past 18 months.

Or maybe it could go back to the other two firms that made its merger shortlist. Whoever you are, be warned. If you want to merge with Coudert Brothers, you have to let its name go first.