Potentially landscape-altering deals don’t come along every day, and a deal that would merge a 1,000-lawyer firm with a 700-lawyer firm would be exactly that. And it’s not just headcount — the marriage of these two firms would have placed the joint entity at No. 9 in revenue for 2012.

But just because two firms are talking merger doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We’ve been let down before.

Indeed, we’ve been let down by one of these firms before. Way back in February, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop was talking with Fulbright & Jaworski about a merger. Nothing ever came of that, but members of the management at Pillsbury are still on the prowl for a big, strong firm to sweep them off their feet. It’s all very romantic.

And now they just might have found the partner they’ve been looking for….

Casey Sullivan from Reuters has an exclusive report that Pillsbury is in talks with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe to merge.

Pillsbury Chairman James Rishwain and Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie issued a joint statement to Reuters on Friday that said: “Our firms are in exploratory discussions about a possible combination. These talks are serving to confirm the great respect our firms have for each other.”

Orrick, with about 1,000 lawyers, is known for its intellectual property, litigation, emerging companies and corporate practices, while the 700-lawyer Pillsbury of New York has, among others, a well-known energy practice. Their joint revenue, based on figures reported by the legal trade publication American Lawyer for 2012, would have placed them at No. 9 in the United States.

Orrick boasts 25 offices worldwide, while Pillsbury lists 15 (including a Nashville office cryptically identified as “Operations,” which is either a mundane administrative clearinghouse or a super-secret spy bunker), and there’s a good deal of office overlap, especially in California. We certainly hope everyone lands on their feet, but the unfortunate side effect of a merger this big would probably be a number of layoffs as the offices merge and redundancies get weeded out.

When it comes to clients, the merger seems like a perfect match of complementary business:

Orrick is known for representing clients like Apple , Microsoft and PG&E Corp, according to its website. Pillsbury has represented, among others, Chevron Corp, BNY Mellon and Xerox, according to legal experts and the firm’s website.

In recent years, according to Reuters, Orrick has represented Oracle Corp in a patent lawsuit against Google, claiming its Android mobile operating technology infringed Oracle’s Java patents, and Microsoft in a patent lawsuit against Barnes & Noble over its Nook electronic book reader.

Pillsbury this year represented a number of companies and banks in mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings like Deutsche Bank and Barclays Bank PLC on a $115 million IPO for Montage Tech Group and Synnex on a $505 million acquisition of IBM’s Customer Care Unit, according to the firm’s website.

According to Sullivan, Orrick is expected to sign the letter of intent next week.

Here’s to the romance of Orrick and Pillsbury being a fairytale, instead of the sadomasochistic, 50 Shades of Grey-style merger of Dewey and LeBouef.

Feel free to discuss in the comments. If you have any additional information, please send it to us directly via email or text (646-820-8477). Thanks.

EXCLUSIVE-Orrick and Pillsbury in talks to form top 10 U.S. law firm [Reuters]

Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Fulbright and Pillsbury Are Talking


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