LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Chadbourne & Parke is in preliminar…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Chadbourne & Parke is in preliminary merger discussions with the London-based firm Watson, Farley & Williams, Chadbourne’s managing partner Charlie O’Neill confirmed Friday, American Lawyer reports.

If Chadbourne’s merger with Watson succeeds, the combined firm would have more than 600 lawyers and combined revenues of more than $350 million.

It’s no secret that Chadbourne has been entertaining merger discussions. In the November 2006 issue of The American Lawyer, O’Neill acknowledged the potential benefit of a merger. Chadbourne, which has around 400 lawyers, could use more size to compete with the larger firms, said O’Neill.

O’Neill also said the firm had been approached by several firms about a merger. But this is the first time O’Neill or anyone at the firm has named a specific marriage partner. O’Neill stressed that the discussions are preliminary.

“Whether it’s going to lead anywhere, who knows,” said O’Neill.

In the last couple of years, O’Neill has worked hard to increase Chadbourne’s profitability after a bad year in 2005 when the firm’s revenues declined by 4.7 percent and its profits per partner dipped below the $1 million mark. To some extent, O’Neill has succeeded. Last year the firm’s revenues increased 10.6 percent to $254 million while its profits per partner jumped 12.4 percent to $1.085 million.

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