LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Two major American law firms are in advan…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Two major American law firms are in advanced talks about a merger that would create one of the nation’s biggest legal advisers, a person briefed on the matter said yesterday.

Combining the two, Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, would create a firm of nearly 1,300 lawyers in 12 countries, with strong presences in New York and London and revenue approaching $1 billion. A proposal is expected to be announced soon.

As advisers seek to broaden their global presence and bulk up their practice areas, mergers have been promoted as a solution.

About 37 law firm mergers were completed between Jan. 1 and June 30, four more than in the same period last year, according to Hildebrandt International, a law consulting firm. But mergers of major New York firms have been few and far between.

Law firms’ main assets are their people, and combining them involves a delicate dance of merging sometimes different corporate cultures. Both LeBoeuf and Dewey have roots in New York with similar organizational structures.

No decisions have yet been made about a name or management structure of a combined firm, this person said.

Founded in 1929, LeBoeuf has more than 700 lawyers based in 18 offices. It has staked out a position in advising energy, utility and insurance companies. Last year, it reported $513 million in gross revenue and $1.43 million in profits per equity partner.

Dewey, which takes its name from former New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, is a specialist in mergers and acquisitions and served as an adviser on the $33 billion buyout of HCA last year. The 550-lawyer firm reported about $409 million in gross revenue last year and profits of $1.45 million per equity partner.

Dewey has already tried walking down the altar during the past year: last fall, it said that it was holding merger talks with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a larger firm based in San Francisco. That combination would have led to a 1,500-lawyer firm with power bases on both coasts.

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