Bingham McCutchen & Morgan Lewis Combination

David Parnell of Forbes interviewed Steven Browne, former managing partner of Bingham McCutchen and now partner of Morgan Lewis. The interview details his experiences of what happen in 2013, and what led up to Bingham combining with Morgan Lewis.
Click here to read David’s article: Steven Browne of Morgan Lewis, On the Lessons of Bingham McCutchen. 


Anecdotes from the Interview:

What led up to the Combination

“Bingham’s 2009 was in 2013. It was a perfect storm.”
“Several litigations winded down or settled.”
“It was their second year investing in the global services center in Lexington KY.”
“Lost a group in their broker-dealer regulatory practice.”
“2013 their performance suffered so they had to pay their partners less.”
“Collectively those things caused negative momentum and confidence issues which led to departures.”
“Just one technical point: we never breached a covenant. Given our position and the situation we were in, over time, we would have.”
“Frankly, we were honest with our clients. We acknowledged that we had our challenges; told them how we felt about it, that we were financially stable, and that we had the defection issue under control.
“[With the banks] We just said “Let’s talk. And here’s where we are. And here are the numbers. And here’s who’s left. And here’s who’s staying.”

Combining with Morgan Lewis

“I think the real challenge that I saw, aside from how much work needed to be done and managing the process and keeping people motivated … was just really holding it together, making sure people stayed together and saw the vision, believed in the opportunity, believed that we could execute on it, and believed that we would deliver.”
“I think I had shown people over the years that I was a “firm guy:” That I cared about the firm and the people more than I cared about, for example, my individual practice or my own individual goals”
“I was direct with people about our challenges, about our strengths, about what it was going to take, and about what the ultimate downside could be, rather than simply saying “It’s all going to work out. Just trust me.”
“At the end of the day, this is the part that impresses and pleases me the most. Because, as I said, besides the challenges of putting a deal like this together, the biggest challenge I thought for Bingham was for us all to stay together and execute on it.”
“The strength of a law firm is not its name. It is the lawyers and the staff and the talent and the business they have. What we brought to the combined organization was that talent.”

 What Firm Leaders Should Know

“…make sure that you have a realistic view of your firm, the legal marketplace, your strategy, and whether they all work together.”
“When it comes to dealing with partners in a law firm, I certainly think that communication is critical. And communicating in an honest, open, transparent way is critical.”
“Future firm leadership should be visionary, nimble, willing to listen, show conservative fiscal management and make hard decisions”.


Additional Reading

How Bingham Failed: The Inside Story
Done Deal: Most of Bingham McCutchen Now Officially Part of Morgan Lewis
Bingham’s Wikipedia Site

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