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Eversheds is understood to be in merger talks with 29-partner Bristol firm Veale Wasbrough.
If the merger goes ahead it will be a significant boost to Eversheds' as yet unfulfilled ambitions to rival the leading Bristol firms, such as Osborne Clarke, Bevan Ashford and Burges Salmon.
Although Eversheds already has an office in Bristol, it is overshadowed by its Cardiff practice.
Eversheds head of business development Simon Slater said: "From time to time a firm such as Eversheds has discussions with other firms."
Veale Wasbrough is a top five Bristol firm which is best known for its public sector work. The firm was unable to comment on the Eversheds talks last Friday, when The Lawyer went to press.
The talks coincide with the appointment of Veale Wasbrough head of litigation Simon Pizzey as its managing partner (see page three).
However, in the past year, it has seen some high-profile departures. In March, top employment partner Chris Southam left to join the London office of national firm Hammond Suddards. And in August, two corporate partners, Nigel Montgomery and Stuart Whitfield, left for Bristol rival Bevan Ashford. The Lawyer understands that Bevan Ashford is in negotiations to hire more partners from Veale Wasbrough.
If Eversheds' talks come to fruition, it would be the firm's fourth major merger in the past 18 months.
In that time it has taken over Newcastle firm Wilkinson Maughan, half of Frere Cholmeley Bischoff and Cambridge firm Palmer Wheeldon. Two weeks ago, The Lawyer revealed that the firm was planning to open an office in Scotland.