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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld are engaged in discussion to merge and form an 1,800 attorney firm. A spokeswoman for Akin Gump confirmed the talks, saying that the firms are "in exploratory discussions regarding the possibility of a merger." Orrick confirmed the talks as well, saying though a spokesman that the firm "have held preliminary discussions about the possibility of a merger ... "[but] it is premature and inappropriate to speak publicly in any detail about the process."
Orrick has sought for a number of years to merge with another large firm, but many such deals have never materialized. Orrick did complete a merger with Hölters & Elsing in 2008. According to reports, Orrick has engaged in merger talks with Coudert Brothers, Cooley Godward, Venture Law Group, Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine, Swidler Berlin Shereff & Friedman and Dewey & LeBoeuf (then Dewey Ballantine).
According to the New York Law Journal, a merger between Orrick and Akin Gump would have massive implications, potentially reshaping the legal landscape in the U.S. and especially in New York. Akin Gump has 860 attorneys in 14 offices worldwide. Orrick has 1,020 attorneys in 23 offices worldwide. The potential revenues at the firms after a merger would be more than $1.5 billion.
There has been a lot of recent activity and interest with regard to law firm mergers. Activity has clearly picked up after a major drop-off due to the economic crisis. Paula Alvary, a principal with Hoffman Alvary, who consults on law firm mergers, says that there is definitely a shift taking place. "...a number of pairs of firms in which both are U.S.-based have either initiated or resumed discussions that have been tabled during the worst parts of the recession."