Thecollapseofthe world’s first truly international firm Coudert Brothers was the biggest event in the legal world last summer.
Profit at the US-based firm had been declining for years, plunging to the lowest among the US’s top 100 law firms. When Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe pounced to take the firm’s entire London and Moscow offices in May, the writing was on the wall.
The firm jumped into merger negotiations with another US firm, Baker & McKenzie (B&M), but the collapse of those talks sparked the vote that released partners from their fiduciary duties to the firm.
After 152 years of practice, Coudert finally threw in the towel in August. The firm held a conference call for all of its partners, who agreed that they could all seek alternative employment.
Coudert is now in the midst of organising new homes for its lawyers and staff. Orrick and DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary have seen the most benefit from Coudert’s demise.
In addition to London and Moscow, Orrick picked up the majority of Coudert’s respected China practice. This has allowed Orrick to open new offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Some of Coudert’s Beijing team have also joined DLA Piper.
DLA Piper has bolstered its Brussels office with half ofCoudert’sBelgian operation. It has launched in Frankfurt on the back of Coudert and is also taking Coudert’s Singapore and Bangkok offices.
Chadbourne & Parke and Denton Wilde Sapte have split Coudert’s Kazakhstan office, while US firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton has picked up Los Angeles. Dechert has bolstered its Paris office by taking on the Coudert team there, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Deacons have split the spoils in Australia.
Although B&M pulled out of a fully-fledged merger, it nevertheless took the majority of Coudert’s New York office.