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Mergerwatch – discussions crank up a gear as Morgan Lewis and Bingham look set to combine

After months of wrangling, the heavily trailed union between Global 100 firms Bingham McCutchen and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius looks set to go ahead, after a pre-recorded voicemail message from Bingham managing partner Steven Browne informed partners of the proposed union on Friday (19 September).

Neither party has issued a statement nor a letter of intent to merge as yet with the partnerships of both firms expected to vote on the proposed union this week. The potential merger was first reported by Reuters in July, which stated that Bingham had approached a number of firms with a view to a tie-up, including Morgan Lewis, after the firm suffered a difficult year financially in 2013 with revenues falling by 13%. Last week, it was reported that a branding management company had registered a series of domain names, including Morgan Bingham or Morgan Lewis Bingham.

The merger would create a firm with more than 2,000 lawyers across 28 offices, with combined revenues of close to $2bn, with Morgan Lewis the significantly larger outfit. The 1,400-lawyer Philadelphia firm posted revenues of $1.29bn in 2013, compared to Boston-based Bingham, which posted $762m.

There is considerable parity in key financial metrics across both firms, Morgan Lewis has a revenue per lawyer of $947,000 compared to $958,000 at Bingham, while profits per equity partner at both firms are $1.57m and $1.47m respectively.

However, the majority of Bingham’s $50m London team will not be part of any deal , after the firm experienced one the largest-ever team losses in the City last week when 22 partners, including 17 in London and the entirety of its well-regarded UK financial restructuring team, quit for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

For more on this story, see the The American Lawyer