Akin Gump and Shaw Pittman in merger talks

The Washington legal market may be nearing a major shift, as two of its largest firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Shaw Pittman, consider merging.

It is understood that the two practices have been holding talks for a number of months, though are still some way from securing a full-blown merger.

The move would be a significant change from Akin Gump’s previous growth strategy, which until now has seen the 1,000 lawyer practice grow through acquisition of niche firms. Shaw Pittman has around 370 lawyers and last year reported turnover of $192.3m (£116.2m).

It is believed that Shaw Pittman’s successful outsourcing practice is particularly attractive to Akin Gump and a merger would significantly strengthen both firms’ technology/intellectual property practices.

Both Shaw Pittman and Akin Gump declined to comment on the talks.