Squire Patton Boggs merger will leave some lawyers on the sidelines, firm leaders say

As Washington-based lobbying giant Patton Boggs prepares to combine with the larger Squire Sanders law firm, some lawyers are likely to be left on the sidelines.

“A few people will be affected by conflicts and will not be able to join the combined firm. And there will be a few who don’t feel comfortable, for one reason or another,” Squire Sanders Chairman Jim Maiwurm told reporters in a conference call Tuesday.

Firm leaders did not say how many people would join the merged firm, to be called Squire Patton Boggs when the combination becomes official June 1. It is common in mergers of law firms for some attorneys to depart.

Maiwurm said the merger got “overwhelming support” when partners at both firms approved it last week.

“This was not a close vote,” Maiwurm said.

On the conference call, Maiwurm was joined by other leaders to discuss the strategy behind combining, how they picked the new name and the challenges putting the deal together. Patton Boggs Chairman Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. will be chairman emeritus at Squire Patton Boggs. Patton Boggs Managing Partner Ed Newberry and Steven Mahlon of Squire Sanders will be global managing partners at the new firm. Squire’s Mark Ruehlmann is chairman-elect.

“There were many challenges on both sides,” Boggs said. “On our side, we had to get people comfortable with the idea they’d be joining a much bigger operation than the Patton Boggs operation.”

Squire Sanders has about 1,300 lawyers in 39 offices around the world. Patton Boggs has about 330 lawyers in the United States and the Middle East. The deal, which had been in the works since February, is widely regarded in the legal industry as key to Patton Boggs’s survival.

Boggs said concern about the combination began to fade after Patton Boggs lawyers visited half of Squire Sanders’s 39 offices throughout the three-month merger discussion. Squire Sanders’s lawyers visited all but one of Patton Boggs’s 10 offices.

“As those visits increased and the interrelationships between the two firms increased, obstacles people saw in the beginning faded away,” Boggs said.

Choosing a name for the new firm was “a difficult negotiation,” leaders of the two firms said.

“We’re trying to take advantage of the heritage of two storied names in the legal profession,” Maiwurm said. “Patton Boggs is very well known; Squire Sanders has existed since 1890. These are two names that have a lot of value.”

Leaders at both firms said Squire Sanders’s global platform — the firm has offices in 19 countries — should mesh well with Patton Boggs’s practice representing foreign governments and its commercial and litigation departments.

“I suspect in a year or two, this will be written . . . as one of the most successful law-firm mergers that’s occurred,” Boggs said.

In Washington, Squire Sanders’s lawyers and staff plan to vacate their current space at 19th and M streets NW and move into Patton Boggs’s office at 25th and M. In New York, Patton Boggs lawyers will be moving into Squire Sanders’s office at Rockefeller Plaza by the end of the year.

Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community. For more Washington business news, go to capbiz.biz.

Catherine Ho covers lobbying at The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.

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