Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is facing increasingly strong competition in its race to merge with Venture Law Group (VLG) after two West Coast firms emerged as serious contenders. Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) and Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe are both understood to be gaining momentum in persuading directors at VLG into joining their firms. Sources indicate that MoFo is currently the frontrunner in taking a large tranche of lawyers from the small West Coast technology outfit. Orrick has been discussing a tie-up with VLG, with which it has had a longstanding referral relationship, for some time. There was some doubt that a merger would proceed after it was brought to light that Orrick was also in merger negotiations with Cooley Godward, but optimism returned following the collapse of these talks. However, with the growing threat from MoFo and Heller Ehrman, sources have said that the next two weeks will be critical for Orrick in terms of winning support from VLG's wavering lawyers. Like a number of technology-led firms, VLG has suffered in recent months. Late last year 25 of the firm's directors had to stump up around $100,000 (£636,400) to buy out a 10-year lease on its San Francisco office when it closed down the branch.