Orrick plans merger

By John O'Brien | Nov 7, 2006

Ralph Baxter

Orrick's Global Operations Center in Wheeling

CHARLESTON - Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, a San Francisco-based law firm that built its Global Operations Center in Wheeling, has reached an agreement to merge with New York-based Dewey Ballantine.

Chief Executive Officer Ralph Baxter, Jr., spent much of his childhood in New Martinsville, Wellsburg and Weirton. In 2001, he invested $10 million of Orrick's money into the Global Operations Center in Wheeling, which consolidates the firm's finance and technology operations.

Baxter is currently serving his sixth three-year term as Orrick's CEO.

The merger will reportedly create a firm with more than 1,500 lawyers and 16 overseas office. The firms' partners will vote on the merger later this year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Orrick won management control, with Baxter and Dewey Ballantine chairman Morgan Pierce serving as co-chairs.

Baxter, 60, built a home in Wheeling several years ago. His father worked at the Weirton Steel coke plant in the 1950s

By moving Orrick's headquarters to Wheeling, Baxter has said personnel and real estate costs at Orrick were cut by 40 percent.

Orrick has offices in places like London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Moscow, Tokyo and Paris.

"The Dewey-Orrick merger would anticipate the future needs of our clients, and position the combined firm as one of the world's premier law firms," said Baxter, a former sixth-grade teacher in Washington, D.C.

"Globally dominant legal providers will be characterized by market-leading practice groups, with a particular strength in M&A, finance and litigation; by having significant operations in all the world's leading commercial and financial centers; and by attracting and retaining top legal talent due to their superior economic performance. All of these characteristics would mark Dewey Orrick."

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