Duane Morris invites UK firms for merger talks

Philadelphia-headquartered firm Duane Morris is in preliminary merger talks with a number of London firms.

Chairman Sheldon Bonovitz has spent the last two days in active discussions with firms to explore the possibility of a merger with his 620-lawyer firm.

The London office of Duane Morris currently has eight partners and Bonovitz has long wanted to ramp up its footprint. Last year Bonovitz told The Lawyer that he wanted to double the headcount in London within five years.

But it seems that the firm is being more aggressive, ideally looking to bulk up to 200 lawyers in the City through a merger.

Potential merger candidates would have strength in corporate rather than litigation and would have some international capability, Bonovitz told The Lawyer today.

But finding the right cultural fit is a priority, he added. Duane Morris is a firm with strong Quaker roots, making decisions through consensus rather than by vote.

The firm has been expansionist of late, opening offices in Singapore, Vietnam and Baltimore in the past six months, as exclusively revealed by The Lawyer (27 November 2006).