Drinker and Gardner add to US mid-market merger roster

Philadelphia-headquartered firm Drinker Biddle & Reath and Chicago-based firm Gardner Carton & Douglas have become the latest in a long list of mid-market US firms to merge in recent months.

The merger, approved by both firms’ partnerships during a vote, will be effective from 1 January 2007. It will create a top 70 firm with 677-lawyers spread across 12 US offices and annual gross revenue of more than $350m (£184.5m).

The combined entity will be headquartered in Philadelphia and practise under the name Drinker Biddle & Reath. However, it will operate in Illinois and Wisconsin as Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton for an unspecified transition period.

The merger comes as the number of deals between mid-market US firms continues to escalate. As revealed on www.thelawyer.com yesterday (13 November), Washington DC-based firm Crowell & Moring acquired 20-lawyer litigation firm King Pagano Harrison.

Meanwhile, the proposed merger between Dewey Ballantine and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which is subject to a partnership vote, is also due to take effect from 1 January 2007.

Drinker Biddle will retain a notable presence within the combined firm’s management, with the firm’s chairman Alfred Putnam Jnr continuing that role in the combined entity and executive partner and managing partner Andrew Kassner to continue as executive partner.

Drinker Biddle is the larger of the two firm’s with more than 450 lawyers across 10 offices. It reported gross revenue of $223m (£117.5m) and average profit per equity partner (PEP) of $575,000 (£303,000) for the 2005 financial year.

Gardner Carton, meanwhile, has 200 lawyers across five offices, including Washington DC, New York and Chicago. It reported gross revenue of $127m (£67m) but its PEP, at $560,000 (£295,000), was virtually the same as the larger firm’s in 2005.

As part of the merger, Drinker Briddle’s 150 lawyers based in Chicago will relocate to Gardner Carton’s existing offices in the city. In Washington DC, Gardner Carton’s lawyers and government relations professionals will move into Drinker Biddle’s premises.