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Quinn Emanuel breaks tradition as merger talks with DC disputes leader Williams & Connolly begin

US litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has entered into merger discussions with Washington DC disputes shop Williams & ConnollyLegal Business can reveal.

Negotiations between the two began in the past month. The tie-up would mark Quinn’s first full-scale merger with the aim of complementing its existing white-collar and product liability practices, as well as its general contentious coverage in the DC area.

Quinn Emanuel managing partner John Quinn said: ‘It is true that we had a meeting on this subject but it was very preliminary and we don’t know what, if anything, will come of this.’

Williams & Connolly now comprises over 300 lawyers and ranks 94th in the latest Global 100 with a turnover of $420m and profit per equity partner standing at $1.6m. In contrast, Quinn – the second-most profitable law firm in the world, which has made a virtue of being one of the premier independent disputes specialists – has a PEP of more than $5m against global revenues of $1.2bn.

A tie-up would give Williams & Connolly lawyers access to Quinn’s expanding international footprint as well as US offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley. A union also would be a rare marriage of leading US law firms and further cement the dramatic rise to global prominence over the last decade of the iconoclastic Quinn Emanuel.

Williams & Connolly is ranked as tier 1 by The Legal 500 in commercial disputes and product liability, and is listed as tier 2 in corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defence.

It was founded in 1967 by illustrious litigator Edward Bennett Williams and his former student Paul Connolly. Since its formation, it has gained reputation for representing high-profile political clients such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Tony Blair.

In May, media reports claimed that Williams & Connolly lawyer Brendan Sullivan Jr had made it onto a four-strong shortlist to represent Donald Trump against investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election. The firm can also boast a cross-sector client base including Pfizer, Sony, Samsung, HSBC, Bank of America and Google.

Williams & Connolly declined to comment.