Manchester firms Cobbetts and Halliwell Landau are in merger talks. The combined firm would be the largest commercial law firm in Manchester with a projected turnover of £19m this year.
And although the firms describe the talks as being at a preliminary stage, a target date of 1 May has been set. All the lawyers have been brought together for at least one meeting.
Halliwell Landau is well-known as a corporate and entrepreneurial firm, while Cobbetts acts for more established and institutional clients.
The combined property team would have a turnover of £5m a year - in itself larger than the total turnover of all but three or four other Manchester firms.
Cobbetts is a leader in 'soft' intellectual property, such as designs and trade marks, while Halliwell Landau is involved in 'hard' IP - patents, engineering and biotech, for example.
It is understood that one perceived problem with a merger was a cultural difference between the two firms. Halliwell Landau is seen as being driven, aggressive and ruled by 'barons' - a classic entrepreneur's law firm. Cobbetts favours the staid, quieter lawyer suited to a long-established firm.
But sources from within the firms say the differences are less than originally thought when they began the talks.