Akin Gump’s 950 lawyers are spread over 11 US and four international offices, while the 350-lawyer Shaw Pittman has five offices. Both firms have modest London arms with between 15 and 20 lawyers each.
Akin Gump chairman Bruce McLean told Legal Week: “The discussions are extremely preliminary and we are finding out exactly what each of the firms do.”
The talks, which began last month, are the latest in a series of high profile merger negotiations that have taken place in the US as a host of firms move to build powerful national practices.
Deals that have been struck in recent years include Pillsbury Madison & Sutro’s combination with Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts, Sidley & Austin’s merger with Brown & Wood and last year’s tie-up between Bingham Dana and McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen.
However, several sets of high profile talks have failed to bear fruit, including most recently those between Cooley Godward and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and the collapse of Brobeck Phleger & Harrison’s talks with Hogan & Hartson and Morgan Lewis & Bockius.