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by Vault Law Editors | September 28, 2010

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See update below

It’s official. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe are in merger talks. Both firms confirmed to the WSJ Law Blog and the Am Law Daily that they’re engaged in “exploratory discussions” about the possibility of a tie-up. Should the merger go forward, the new firm would house some 1,800 lawyers. While Orrick is larger (1,100+ lawyers, compared to 800+ at Akin), the two are fairly closely matched when it comes to profits and prestige (Akin Gump ranks No. 34 in the Vault Law 100; Orrick isn’t far behind at No. 39).

Megamergers might be on the rise (see, e.g., new transatlantic giants Hogan Lovells and SNR Denton), but, with Orrick one of the parties, there’s no need to save the date just yet. As the Am Law Daily notes, Orrick has acquired a reputation as a runaway bride; it came closest to exchanging vows with then-Dewey Ballantine in 2006, but that wedding was called off amid bitter recriminations. The firm has also toyed with the affections of a number of other firms in the last decade, including Coudert Brothers, Cooley, Venture Law Group and Swidler Berlin.

Whether Orrick and Akin are just dating or building a true romance is not yet clear, but one has to wonder ... Will the world ever be the same if we see it through the eyes of Orrick Gump?

- posted by vera

Update, October 5, 2010: Only days after confirming their budding romance, Akin and Orrick announced Monday that the wedding is off, issuing the following joint statement:

“Orrick and Akin Gump have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed.”

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