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South East firm Blake Lapthorn Linnell is negotiating a merger with 20-partner London firm Tarlo Lyons.
The deal will be Blake Lapthorn's fourth merger in as many years.
Tarlo Lyons co-managing partner Warren Foot said: "Both firms are keen to reach a decision in weeks rather than months."
Tarlo Lyons' light has faded since coming to prominence during the dotcom boom. It has been trying to reinvent itself as a full-service firm and needs the critical mass that a merger would provide.
Blake Lapthorn managing partner Walter Cha said: "We're looking to grow London and don't think we can do that organically, so have identified a firm we want to talk to."
At the end of the last financial year Blake Lapthorn had 207 lawyers and a £33.3m turnover. Tarlo Lyons' turnover has slumped from around £10m in its 2001 heyday to around £6m, generated by 47 lawyers.