The two firms, which have been in the advanced stages of talks since October, are understood to have abandoned marriage plans that could have created a 300-partner firm.
They considered a joint venture linkup in 1999, but those discussions also fell at the final hurdle. The failure marks yet another collapse for transatlantic merger plans, hard on the heels of the demise of talks between Ashurst Morris Crisp and Latham & Watkins and between Bird & Bird and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. In both those cases the firms blamed economic problems such as differing compensation schemes for partners and diverse profitabilities.
Watson Farley & Williams and Hunton & Williams declined to comment.