Mayer Brown courtship of Simmons founders

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  • Ten years on and history repeats itself. Mayer Brown merged with Rowe & Maw to solve a problem with a loss making London office. Its problem then, as now, is that the Chicago power brokers did not and still do not understand the London legal market. Some of the decisions made by the firm in relation to its London office over the past three years have been tantamount to pressing the self-destruct button. Few who have gone from the firm in that time will have any sympathy for its plight, and one can only assume that the CVs of the remaining decent lawyers in London office are already doing the rounds.

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  • Rowe & Maw was a good merger partner, but London and the New York office of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw needed building up quickly and in the good years after the Rowe & Maw merger. Without strong London and New York offices international would not work. Lateral hires in London were expensive and not good value for money. Top New York talent walked out some years ago. Partner cuts destroyed ethos and morale.

    The deal with Johnson Stokes & Masters was "inspired". It was the time to go forward strongly, but then came the cuts and the Paul Maher exit.

    It was said at the time of the Rowe & Maw merger that Chicago heavy-weights doubted its merits and even voted against. Now Chicago (Mr Krueger which way did you vote?) finds itself internationally invested but without the weight it needs in London or New York. They need an even bigger strategic review than the Pru!

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  • Pity, this would have been a great merger for both firms.

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  • US-UK is clearly the way the market is going at the moment and more than likely will accelerate over the coming months. This might just prove to be a missed opportunity for both firms.

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  • Any guesses as to who will be next?

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  • How about Gibson Dunn and Macfarlanes?

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  • Paul Maher's exit from Mayer Brown last year was a cataclysmic event in the firm’s illustrious history.
    The firm's London presence has experienced tough times ever since Paul's departure. There has been a partner exodus, profitability has slumped and the firm has lost key clients. These merger talks, if true, represent a pathetic cry for help and are indicative of the firm’s dwindling presence.
    The firm heralded its own demise in ousting Maher. The very man, who, by virtue of his vision orchestrated the legal world’s most infamous merger and played an irreplaceable role in building Mayer Brown to the firm it was before he left, is the same force that is and will lead to the firm’s dramatic fall from grace. The void created by Paul Maher’s departure is something the firm will never recover from; Mayer Brown’s management committee is well aware of this and rueing their misjudgement.

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  • Mayer Brown is a tarnished name. The heavy hitters have gone, the remaining partners are sitting ducks. Why would any decent firm want to merge with them?

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  • It's easy to see what Mayer Brown is up to. They've lost their key talent. They can't afford to 'restructure' what is left of the London partnership -because it would have nothing left if it did - so Mayer Brown is seeking a merger so that it can kick them out once the ink is dry.......

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  • *yawn*......

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  • It's always a bad sign when the success of a collective endeavour becomes synonymous with the fate of one person as it tends to suggest (erroneously) that there are no others who can galvanise and lead it. Merging sensible, well structured firms like Simmons and Mayer Brown makes a lot of sense, saving costs through synergies and widening the client base.

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  • Unfortunately for Mayer Brown the point on Maher is largely true. For well over a decade Mayer Brown was synonymous with Paul Maher, he was the man who attracted the firm’s talent and business. He was an integral part of their brand and identity. Greenberg Traurig Maher’s a thriving business down to the fact that brand Maher is capable of attracting talent and large pieces of business. Greenberg Traurig Maher is proving to be an inexorable force that will continue to shun Mayer Brown in the coming years.

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  • I know how to fill the 'void' a Greenberg Traurig Maher Mayer Brown merger to create a new firm Maher Brown.

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  • I am an in-house lawyer and all I hear about is lawyers talking about law firms and other lawyers. They should talk about the law, education, and training for god's sake. It's about time the legal profession stopped being so inward-looking and focused more on the clients.

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  • Precisely, GTM was set up to reform the legal industry; it is a shareholder led business that listens to its clients desires. It is not an elitist organisation with an inflated hourly rate.

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  • The departure of Paul Maher was significant (though not as significant as some would like to think), but a lot of Mayer Brown's issues either pre-date or are unrelated to this - expensive and unsuccessful lateral hires and the failure to invest in counter-cyclical practice areas, being the most obvious ones. These have led to a succession of morale-destroying head count reductions and drastic cost cutting from which MB's London office will struggle to recover. Hence the attraction of a UK merger now to a firm whose established domestic strategy was always expansion through organic growth and targetted laterals. It is a desperate necessity rather than an pre-planned strategic move.

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  • Who are you people? Why not give your names? What is all this fuss over one guy. Paul helped one of my clients shortly after the merger and he was good. But he was not god. He joined a firm off most people's radar screen and having just looked at their London office website - 36 people. I recognise one name who has been at many firms. I can't believe the W&C folk were at the top of their game. For heaven's sake, he did not join Slaughter's or any near magic circle firm in the US or the UK.

    Separately, how many US firms are doing perfectly in the UK?

    Yes, Mayer Brown suffers from not being a NY firm, but that is an old story and frankly there is some real talent in their NY office - as at many firms.

    I just can't believe all this Paul worshiping is reflective of the reality. But when he merges GTM with S&M, I will eat my words!

    No doubt the Maher PR machine will rubbish everything I have said, but I needed to say it - cause its true!

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  • On the whole Paul Maher receives excellent support because he’s a very good lawyer, something which he is valued for. His ability has led to great success, which has caused resent among certain individuals including some of his ex-MB colleagues who believe their ability is and has always been of the same standard as Paul’s. He certainly is not God. The following things allow me to suggest that Paul Maher is merely a top lawyer:

    - His brilliant negotiation and communication skills.

    - his extensive client base (retained at GTM).

    - the fact the world’s eighth largest law firm altered their well-established brand to accommodate him.

    - the various accolades he has received including Partner of the Year.

    - his ability to hire top legal talent; Lyndon Norley, Tim Webb, Tim Jeavons and Neil Upton, to mention just a few, are all top lawyers.

    In response to ‘No doubt the Maher PR machine will rubbish everything I have said, but I needed to say it - cause it’s true!’

    Exactly the same can be said to those who speak out against Paul Maher. Moreover, in future try presenting an argument with more sophistication than ‘but I needed to say it cause it’s true’, I would expect this level of analysis from a 5 year old!

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  • GTM - no deals after a year, where's the business. Can we have some year end results please! The Lawyer criticises other firms for not being open on results - isn't it about time for some objective reporting.

    12:28 - you are clearly a publicist. If maher was such a legend where are clients and deals. Wooohooo an instruction opposing OFWAT - big deal

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  • Mergers are a two sided beast. On the positive it offers a “marriage made in Heaven” for both firms to integrate and benefit from each other’s strengths whilst further minimising their shortfalls through joint efforts.

    On the negative, you can have a firm waiting for its “white knight” to save it from potential obscurity or alternatively, having an underperforming firm pillage the other better performer and suck it of strategy, intelligence and efficiencies.

    It was reported on 13/5/10 in the legal press that, Simmons partners expected revenues to be 10%+ down in 2009-10 and yet, Simmons doesn’t seem to have posted their official results. If this is true, one can easily identify the vicious cycle that may await any firm in such a predicament:

    1. Revenues fall as will PEP more than likely;
    2. Disgruntled partners may jump ship to firms who are better performing and offer higher PEP;
    3. Loss of prominent partners may lead to parts of a key clients or worst case, an entire key client following those partners (once contractual sanctions are lifted) as the clients prefer dealing with those partners after years of strong relationships;
    4. Start again from point 1 and work your way down.

    No doubt, the global financial crisis will show which firms have had a good strategy in place that generated strong revenues, employee satisfaction and most importantly, client experience and fulfilment. Such firms will not only attract good talent, they will also attract well paying clientele. Nothing beats a solid reputation backed by consistent performance.

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  • First, I am not sure I spoke out against Paul - I think I said some nice things, but was just trying to put a "reality spin" on all of this Paul worshiping. So - no one I can see is speaking out against Paul - just trying to balance all the speaking out pro-Paul in an article about Mayer Brown.

    Still (as my kids always say), Paul and those who love him (and I note again I don't think I said anything bad at all about him - he did a good job for one of my clients shortly after the merger) are free to love him. But he left more than a few months ago, so why bother with all the now old news angst - at least in an article about Mayer Brown and Simmons. Yes, it could be interesting for all of us to meet at the pub and discuss all the ins and outs of what might have been with Paul at Mayer Brown and lots of other lawyers at lots of other firms. (FYI, I like to watch the movements of Maurice Allen - sadly he has not come yet to Mayer Brown.)

    There are so many impressive lawyers who have joined and left Mayer Brown and other firms, I am not sure why Paul and his friends can't move on.

    If he is so amazing, again, why is not at Slaughters, Freshfields, Linklaters, A&O, Cravath, Cleary, A&O, Sullivan and Cromwell, Simpson Thatcher, Skadden, Davis Polk, Wachtel to name but a few. Mayer Brown is probably not in the league of those firms (although no doubt in some areas it is, but not overall). Or why not join another slightly below the top firms like K&E, Ashurts, Jones Day, Latham, Sidley, D&P, Gibson Dunn, etc,

    Frankly (and this might be slightly anti-Paul), why don't Paul's supporters get him to one of those firms and take over the legal world - that would make Mayer Brown eat his dust better than all of the silly banter (mine included!) on the website. So bring it on - Paul Maher, Senior Partner at Slaughters!

    Come on, guys lets move on - Mayer Brown articles about Mayer Brown. Paul articles about his new efforts at his new firm are great as well - but let's move on.

    My final word - if all of Paul's friends could please give us your names two things will happen. First, your comments will have some greater credibility. Second, I will reveal myself as well - how grown up. xxx

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  • Does anyone else find it slightly irritating that any article about Mayer Brown always gets hijacked by the disciples of Paul Maher? No doubt if Mayer Brown posted spectacular financial results it would be down to the legacy that Paul left behind. It is irritating - and it is also likely to backfire on GTM at some point, I would suspect.

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  • Once again this topic fascinates, but you all need to move on, debating this is going to have absolutely no effect on the predicament of Paul and Mayer Brown. Their destinies are in their own hands! Clearly there was a rather acrimonious fall out that has left people on both sides resentful. It’s time to forgive and forget.
    All I would add is that clearly Paul Maher is a very good lawyer and is building a very strong London presence (their total headcount is already 60+), I’ve worked with GTM over the last year and seen the amount of business they’ve already won; I’m not quite sure how one can therefore justify the claim that they’ve won no business! The firm’s end of year results will show this to be untrue, of that I’m certain.

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  • how grown up! xxxx

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  • these polarised responses reflect the polarising history of the firm - the old guard at Rowe and Maw versus those who partners who were not in that pre-merger clique and the cultural differences between a very dynamic American firm and an establishment English firm. if the rest of the partnership and their business plans were sufficiently successful Paul Mahers departure would not have generated such a difficulty for them - to state the obvious. this appears like Cadwalder albeit on a bigger scale when Wilkinson left London office of that firm

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  • Personally, I'm gutted that Maher never hooked up with Mike Allen and Maurice Goetz - that would have kept us hacks and market watchers entertained for years.

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  • Anonymous 6.21pm - I think you'll find in fact that at the time of the merger the "very dynamic" firm was Rowe & Maw (having restructured its partnership, it was punching well above its weight at the time of the merger) and that the "establishment" firm was and still is (in Chicago at least) Mayer Brown. The firm is controlled and dominated by the "old guard" at the latter.

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  • Clearly Mr Maher still generates great interest. The old Chicago firm was pretty conservative, even old fashioned, and Rowe & Maw was dynamic at the time of the merger, but that was at least partly due to Paul himself, though the firm then (and now) was much more than him. The logic of the merger was largely size driven though there were other factors. To the person who asked why Paul was not at a firm such as Slaughters, etc, the answer is he could have been, as those with long memories know that the changes at Rowe & Maw were sparked by his threat to go to Clifford Chance and lack of profitability. However it was plain that he wanted to lead (some might say dominate) and that is borne out by subsequent events. He is obviously a good lawyer, but can be an uneasy bed fellow. Whatever his faults, he appears to establish good client relationships and a loyal team behind him. Time will tell about GTM. The current problems with the abortive Mayer Brown merger are no doubt partly due to his departure, as they have exposed the current MB weaknesses, but I would guess that Simmons have their problems too - and a lot of this will be wrapped around very expensive premises, although the attractiveness of the Far East practice must be tempting if the partners there want to hook up with Simmons.

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  • Maher was a disaster for Mayer Brown - there's no escaping it. His acclaimed leadership left the London office moribund and with a massive real estate liability that he himself personally negotiated. He also personally negotiated the JSM deal which was even more expensive for MB that the Rowe and Maw merger. There are no stars joining GTM and there is no way its profitable after partner draws in the same way MB London was never profitable in this way. My prediction is GTM will quietly close its London office at some point and MB London will continue to drain resources from MB US.

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  • Anonymous 8:03 p.m, you're talking absolute rubbish, Paul Maher was Mayer Brown's best lawyer, as for GTM you clearly have no nowledge of the legal market! Mayer Brown has collapsed as a result of Maher's departure!

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  • The previous comment makes no sense, it is frankly redolent with lies.

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  • It is quite bewildering that Simmons can be thought of as a merger candidate. I mean, what does this firm have going for it? A group of lateral hire partners who were not good enough to make it at the top firms, total lack of focus, uninspiring management, high overheads, a move into securitisation just as the market tanked, unhappy junior partners, I could go on. Mayer Brown should be aiming much higher.

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  • That is a very good description of Mayer Brown's fundamental issues.

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  • Re Anonymous 5.05pm - sounds to me like a match made in heaven!

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  • Funny how much we each know and don't know. Simmons may have it issues, but it is the go to firm for Hedge Fund work - Like Shulte in the US. Is that fair? No, Decherts and others are fine, but Simmons still gets the first phone call (most of the time). They charge enormous fees - obviously some other departments bring that down and no doubt it has many of the other problems noted.

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