The streets are buzzing with word that San Francisco’s Folger Levin & Kahn is in advanced merger talks with Crowell & Moring, a Washington, D.C.-based firm with more than 450 lawyers.
We have yet to get confirmation from the firms that they are talking, but knowledgeable sources outside the firms have been hearing about it. Crowell & Moring partners we reached said our questions would best be answered by the press department or the firm’s chairman, Kent Gardiner, who hasn’t gotten back to us. A Crowell D.C. spokeswoman neither confirmed nor denied talks. Folger lawyers, including the name partners and managing partner, have been mum.
One lawyer familiar with Folger, who believed it was a done deal, said word had first leaked out about a month ago. Now, that lawyer said, there appears to be turmoil inside Folger. Lawyers there are split between those who see the possibilities of joining a bigger firm with offices as far as Brussels and London and those who feel their best opportunities lie in striking out on their own.
Another lawyer on the outside said the mood seems to have shifted inside the firm. “I think people are sad.” Some are looking for other opportunities, the lawyer said.
If the deal does go through, observers say it would signal a change of heart on the part of Folger Levin, which has remained independent as suitors looked for S.F. merger partners.
We go over the practice area overlaps, after the jump ...
Crowell & Moring, which already has offices in Irvine and Los Angeles, is best known in D.C. for its government contracts practice. Many of the practice areas listed on its Web site seem to overlap with those of Folger Levin, including complex litigation, antitrust, corporate matters and IP. Folger Levin has two offices –- San Francisco and L.A. –- and the vast majority of the 56 lawyers listed on its Web site are based in San Francisco.
San Francisco recruiter Avis Caravello told Legal Pad today that if such a deal goes through, it would be a boon for Crowell. The firm would get not just a San Francisco office, but an instant litigation presence here. “It makes sense to me because it’s very difficult for any law firm that’s trying to establish a presence in Northern California to bulk up quickly,” Caravello, who is not involved in the deal, said. “They are getting a top litigation practice.”
She added that Folger could benefit from Crowell’s good reputation in antitrust and litigation overall, and the government contracts practice has a bright forecast, given the regulations coming down the pike through the Obama administration. “It’s good timing for Folger to align themselves with a firm that has a presence in an area that is really busy.”
Crowell’s been growing quickly: According to our sister publication American Lawyer, the firm grossed $296 million in 2008, a 26 percent increase over the prior year.