Wilmer Cutler and Hale and Dorr fight it out for control of European operation

The European offices of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering and Hale and Dorr are facing a power struggle for dominance in the newly merged firm.

As revealed on www.thelawyer.com (20 April), Wilmer Cutler and Hale and Dorr announced a merger last week, which is due to be completed by 31 May, after starting talks in July last year.

It has already been revealed that the managing partners from Wilmer Cutler and Hale and Dorr, William Perlstein and William Lee respectively, will co-lead the firm. But no decision has yet been reached on who will head up the merged firm in Europe, which will now have more than 140 lawyers in offices in Berlin, Brussels, London, Munich and Oxford.

At present, Joe Pillman is the partner-in-charge at Hale and Dorr’s European offices, while Deiter Lange is the senior partner for Wilmer Cutler Europe.

Gerry Cater, corporate partner at Wilmer Cutler’s London office, told The Lawyer that the merged firm will have a 12-strong management committee that will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the firm and which will house two delegates from Europe.

He added: “There will be, at least initially, one legacy Wilmer Cutler lawyer and one legacy Hale and Dorr lawyer [from Europe].”

On top of the management structure at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, as the new firm will be known, there will be a policy committee of between 25 and 30 representatives.

It is not known how the firms will go about choosing a European managing partner, although sources speculate that the management committee may decide on a candidate and put it to a firmwide vote.

Wilmer Cutler and Hale and Dorr are more or less equal in terms of total lawyer numbers, with the former firm housing 560 to the latter’s 500. However, in Europe the difference is more pronounced: Hale and Dorr has around 40 lawyers, including 17 partners, compared with Wilmer Cutler’s 101, which includes 31 partners.