Bird & Bird's merger with Orricks shelved

Merger talks between Bird & Bird and US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe have been abandoned after partnership objections on both sides.

Partners at top IP/IT firm Bird & Bird were split on whether the merger would benefit the firm – with the IP experts understood to be against it.

The firm's corporate partner and chairman David Kerr is said to have been driving the move, but he was opposed by the London office of Orrick over his plans to dump its projects practice.

A Bird & Bird partnership vote on the merger scheduled for December was shelved. Both sides have now given up.

A source says: “There was an inherent lack of enthusiasm from the IP department to merge and total optimism coming from the corporate side.

“The corporate team wanted the big American clients, but the IP practice already acts for many US companies and was concerned about conflicts.”

The IP partners thought to have opposed the move include Hamish Sandison, Morag Macdonald and Trevor Cook.

“The last thing they wanted to do was be part of a big conglomerate,” says another source.

One senior lawyer close to Orricks says: “At one stage Bird & Bird was going to decimate the whole of Orricks' London office because it didn't think projects were the right thing to do.”

The firms say the talks ended because of issues including growth objectives and client conflicts, but say they will continue working together.