City firm Norton Rose is understood to be in merger talks with German firm Gaedertz.
It is eyeing up Germany's eighth largest practice - which has 180 lawyers and is a general corporate commercial practice - with a view to making a first step into the German legal market.
Senior partner David Lewis confirms that Gaedertz is one of the firms he is looking at.
"We are talking to a number of people and have been for some time. Our strategy is to be part of a global law group and that means initially a European network. With Gaedertz we are hoping to put something together, but we are some way away from announcing anything," he says.
Last year Gaedertz merged with Hamburg and Frankfurt-based Schõn Nolte, a former running mate of Linklaters before it launched Linklaters & Alliance and teamed up with Oppenhoff & Rädler.
Gaedertz is a national practice with offices across Germany, and is rated for its mergers and acquisitions work, intellectual property and shipping.
It has strong footholds in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich. It also has offices in Koblenz, Potsdam and Wiesbaden, and outside Germany it has presences in Brussels and Prague.
One senior player in the market describes it as "the equivalent of a national firm in the UK - the German Eversheds".
Another top lawyer in Germany says: "Gaedertz is a large firm so it would give Norton Rose numbers, but in the areas that Norton Rose would need it I wouldn't regard it as a good fit.
"What it does not have is any particular profile in finance, and that is what I would imagine Norton Rose would want it for."
Norton Rose has offices in Paris, Brussels, Moscow, Warsaw, Bangkok, Singapore and Bahrain.
Gaedertz managing partner Johann-Christoph Gaedertz was unavailable for comment.