The largest merger in law firm history was announced this week when
the biggest Texas firm joined forces with a 100-lawyer New York
partnership, a continuation of the consolidations that have reshaped
the legal industry.
The merger, between Fulbright & Jaworski and Reavis & McGrath,
will create the seventh-largest firm in the United States, with 575
lawyers in seven cities around the nation and two abroad.
In large part, the wave of mergers in New York and elsewhere has
been brought by pressure on middle-sized firms - those with 100 to
200 lawyers - that must compete with larger partnerships that can
offer more services at a lower price.
But lawyers involved in Thursday's announcement said it was the
larger firm, Fulbright & Jaworski, that had been feeling a stronger
need to merge.
``We have for a number of years been losing clients because we
have been unable to serve their needs in New York and Los Angeles,''
said Gibson Gayle Jr., managing partner of Fulbright & Jaworski,
which has grown to 475 lawyers.
``We feel Reavis, with its offices in those two cities, will
complement our practice precisely.''
Fulbright and Jaworski is already the 11th-largest firm by
number of lawyers and the 16th-largest by income.
Although it has become a national firm known for its litigation,
corporate and bankruptcy practices, it has not had a significant
presence for a firm its size in the financial services area, lacking
strong connections to the capital markets on the East and West
Fulbright & Jaworski was founded in 1919 by two Houston lawyers,
R. Clarence Fulbright and John H. Crooker. The firm's name was
changed to reflect the leadership of Leon Jaworski, the Watergate
special prosecutor, who died in 1982.
Clients of Fulbright & Jaworski, which has grown dramatically in
the 1980s, include the Exxon Corp., the Coastal Corp., Baylor
University and the BankAmerica Corp.
The firm also helped represent Texaco Inc. in its protracted
litigation with the Pennzoil Co.
Fulbright & Jaworski had income last year of about $54 million
on revenues of $117 million, people at the firm said.
The new entity, which will be created on Jan. 1, will be called
Fulbright & Jaworski at its Houston headquarters and in six other
cities. Its New York and Los Angeles offices will be known
initially as Fulbright Jaworski & Reavis McGrath.
Partners at Reavis & McGrath said Thursday that they had agreed
to merge to diversify their business and locations.
They vigorously denied reports in trade publications that a lull
in business and a recent series of defections had led to a desire to