US firm Reed Smith has announced its intention to merge with Chicago-based mid-sized firm Sachnoff & Weaver.

Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith, which is in the process of finalising its merger with Richards Butler in London, has reached an agreement in principle with the 140-lawyer firm. However, the tie-up is subject to a vote by the partnerships of both firms, which will occur in November.

If approved, the tie-up will be effective from 1 March 2007, two months after the firm’s merger with Richards Butler is to go live on 1 January 2007.

The overall combined firm will have nearly 1,500 lawyers and revenues of more than $850m. It will be known for a period of time in Chicago as Reed Smith Sachnoff Weaver.

The latest combination with Sachnoff & Weaver will provide Reed Smith with a major presence in Chicago and the Midwest – both of which the firm has been targeting.

In November 2005, Reed Smith managing partner Greg Jordan told The Lawyer that the firm was looking to expand into Chicago, China and Texas through separate mergers.

In a statement, Jordan said of the Sachnoff & Weaver merger: “This move is aligned with our overall strategy to expand into the markets where our clients conduct their businesses and need our services most.

“This is a step we’ve long anticipated and we are pleased with the prospect of combining with a strong and dynamic partner like Sachnoff & Weaver.”

Sachnoff & Weaver president Michael LoVallo said: “After months of intensive talks and in-depth examination, we are confident that Reed Smith is the right fit for us.

“Our two firms have highly compatible cultures, closely aligned practice groups, and a commitment to clients that we know will facilitate a smooth transition and integration.”

Reed Smith head of litigation Thomas McGough, who will stand down from the role at the end of the year after nine years of service, is expected to play a key role in the integration.