Orrick merger could mean Wheeling growth

WHEELING – Whether they work in Paris, New York City, Los Angeles or Shanghai, about 1,000 lawyers working for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP depend on the firm’s global operations center.

Now, a potential corporate merger with another San Francisco-based law firm – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP – could bring even more activity to the Main Street facility once home to Wheeling Stamping, which Orrick has operated since 2002.

“If Orrick does a merger such as this, it would increase the activity at the global operations center,” said Ralph Baxter, chairman emeritus of Orrick, who formerly served as the company’s CEO.

“The current firms are in exploratory talks of a merger. Time will tell how these talks go,” Baxter added, noting he could not provide a timetable for the proposed merger.

In addition to the aforementioned locations, Orrick maintains operations in additional offices spanning the United States, Europe and Asia. Baxter said his company developed the idea to open such a center to consolidate its back-office operations in the late 1990s as a way to cut costs.

“Wherever they are in the world, they depend on Wheeling,” he said of the company’s lawyers.

Baxter said between 300 and 350 people work at the global operations center, depending on the workload on hand at a particular time. The Center Wheeling facility serves as home to Orrick’s network operations center, service desk, software applications support and web engineering. Finance functions located at the center include global taxation, general ledger, billing and collections and payroll.

Baxter said he initially approached former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise about building such a center in the Mountain State when Wise served as a member of Congress in the late 1990s.

According to its website, Pillsbury has 15 offices in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Houston, San Diego, New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo.

Pillsbury has been named the 2014 U.S. News Best Lawyers’ “Law Firm of the Year” in environmental law.

“Pillsbury is fortunate to have a group of enormously talented, top-ranked environmental practitioners on the East, West and Gulf Coasts,” said Christopher McNevin, a Pillsbury partner and leader of the firm’s Environment, Land Use and Natural Resources practice. “We have deep experience in counseling and compliance across the full spectrum of environmental regulation, as well as in litigation, investigative response, air quality and land use.”