18 Mar 2020

Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton postpone merger in response to Covid-19 pandemic

National duo delay deal to the summer as leaders of newly merged Faegre Drinker praise staff for level of collaboration in face of crisis

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A near-deserted Grand Central Station in New York earlier this week Shutterstock

National US law firms Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton have postponed their agreed merger to 1 July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes in the same week that the leaders of Faegre Drinker praised their staff for their response to a crisis that erupted just days after the merger between Faegre Baker and Drinker Biddle went live.

Timing proved crucial for the two sets of law firms, whose deals were announced either side of the New Year.

The merger between Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton was announced in January and was due to go live on 1 April, creating Troutman Pepper.

However, in a joint statement the firms said they had decided to put back the combination, which will create a 23-office firm with 1,100 lawyers.

“In light of the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton will postpone our merger date to July 1, 2020,” the firms said in a joint statement.

“While we are well-positioned to execute the combination on April 1, we believe the decision to postpone is in the best interest of our attorneys, staff, and clients.

“Postponing the merger will allow our attorneys to remain focused on excellent client care and will allow all our people to prioritise the health and safety of their families and themselves at this difficult time.”

However, the two firms have joined forces to create a combined resources centre for their clients, a move adopted by a growing number of law firms as they mobilise their lawyers to provide briefings on the coronavirus pandemic for their clients.

Meanwhile, in a message to clients on Monday, the co-chairs of the newly merged Faegre Drinker praised staff for their response to the crisis given that the merger between Am Law 100 stalwarts Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker and Philadelphia’s Drinker Biddle only went live on 1 February.

“We committed on February 1 to be a firm designed for clients, putting client needs first and providing excellence without arrogance,” said Thomas Froehle and Andrew Kassner.

“We also resolved to bring the entire firm to you – our clients. We could not be prouder of the firm’s adherence to those principles over these last challenging weeks. We see our colleagues collaborating with clients and each other as though our combination occurred 30 years ago, not only 30 days ago."

Froehle and Kassner said the firm’s 22 offices would remain closed until at least 31 March with staff remote working.

The network was originally shut on 10 March as a precaution when a visitor to the firm’s Washington DC office subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

In recent days, a slew of law firms have announced blanket remote working for their staff across all or parts of their networks in line with policies adopted by firms including Reed Smith, Baker McKenzie and Taylor Wessing last week and Nixon Peabody on Monday.

Further reading on the Covid-19 pandemic

Staff welfare, supply chain and privacy: the coronavirus-related issues keeping GCs awake at night

'I have realised how powerful technology now is': an Italian lawyer's take on Covid-19

Coronavirus risk may be unprecedented, but the fundamental principles of crisis response still apply

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