Locke Lord's MP Clements Weighs in on Patton Boggs Talks

, The Am Law Daily

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Jerry Clements
Jerry Clements

Last week, The Am Law Daily spoke with Patton Boggs managing partner Edward Newberry about the potential merger his firm is discussing with Locke Lord.

For Patton Boggs—the 51-year-old Washington, D.C.–based powerhouse that is home to legendary lobbyist and name partner Thomas Hale Boggs Jr.—the talks come amid the rollout of a new strategic plan that has resulted in, among other things, the layoffs of more than 100 lawyers and staffers in a move designed to save roughly $20 million.

On Monday, The Am Law Daily interviewed Newberry's counterpart on the other side of the negotiating table, Locke Lord managing partner Jerry Clements, for her take on what all parties insist are still preliminary talks about a potential combination.

As it happens, this week marks the 50th anniversary of a day that Clements will never forget, although her memories are more personal than most Americans. As a nine-year-old girl, Clements handed a yellow rose plucked from the garden of her family's Fort Worth home to President John F. Kennedy as he left a breakfast reception at the Texas Hotel on Nov. 22, 1963, just hours before he was assassinated.

Speaking by phone from Locke Lord’s Austin office, Clements says she was approached this summer about a potential deal with Patton Boggs, a firm she praises for its “well-known brand” in the government relations and regulatory arena, while highlighting her own firm’s expertise in the areas of energy, insurance and litigation.

Clements declines to comment on Patton Boggs’ recent business moves or its “internal strategies.” She did, however, echo Newberry’s position that while the two firms have not signed a letter of intent, they are conducting due diligence on a variety of fronts related to a possible merger.

Clements notes that PricewaterhouseCoopers—one of two accounting firms hired by Patton Boggs to conduct a financial analysis of a merger—is a longtime adviser to Locke Lord. Without going into detail, she adds that the Patton Boggs discussions represent just one of several “interesting opportunities” Locke Lord is presently considering.

Unlike Patton Boggs, Clements says that Locke Lord has not retained outside advisers to assess the viability of a combination. That's largely because her firm is well-versed in the business, financial and legal intricacies involving in completing such deals, several of which Locke Lord has been through over the past decade.

Some legal industry observers say a merger between Locke Lord and Patton Boggs—which, at roughly 500 full-time equivalent lawyers apiece, are similarly sized—makes sense if only because it could vault them into the growing ranks of global legal giants.

“Mergers have become a very credible option for midsize firms,” says Tony Williams—a former managing partner of Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance and the founder of London-based Jomati Consultants—speaking generally about how opening new offices and making lateral hires often isn't enough for firms looking to bulk up in a hurry.

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