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Law firms rarely address rumors, but Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe confirmed Tuesday that they are in merger talks. The combined entity could have more than 1,800 lawyers, and since both firms have sizeable New York offices, a tie-up would change the Big Apple’s legal landscape.

Law firms rarely address rumors, but Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe confirmed Tuesday that they are in merger talks. The combined entity could have more than 1,800 lawyers, and since both firms have sizeable New York offices, a tie-up would change the Big Apple's legal landscape. 3

Law firms rarely address rumors, but Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe confirmed Tuesday that they are in merger talks. The combined entity could have more than 1,800 lawyers, and since both firms have sizeable New York offices, a tie-up would change the Big Apple’s legal landscape.

Neither firm offered details on their negotiations, saying simply that the talks are preliminary. According to the most recent data from The National Law Journal’s 2009 survey, Dallas-based Akin Gump had 199 attorneys in its New York office, while San Francisco-based Orrick had 191 lawyers here.

With a combined Manhattan presence of 390 lawyers, the new firm would rank as the 15th largest in the city, according to Crain’s New York Business’ 2009 rankings, surpassing such old-line New York names as Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy (386 lawyers), Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft (357 lawyers), and Proskauer Rose (345 lawyers).

Of course, mergers often lead to layoffs or streamlining, and if this marriage does go through, there are several areas of overlap in the firms’ New York offices.

Both Akin Gump and Orrick have tax practices here, for example. Other duplicate practice areas include corporate, real estate, restructuring, employee benefits and compensation, and private investment funds, according to the firms’ websites.

This is the latest in a spate of law firm mergers this year. About eight U.S. firms signed merger deals in first quarter of 2010, and 10 mergers involving U.S. firms were announced in the second quarter, according to The American Lawyer.

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