FREEHILLS has confirmed it is in merger talks with Herbert Smith, and though no timeline has been set and nothing has been confirmed, it's expected to be a merger of equals.
A source from Freehills told The New Lawyer that a message was sent to all Herbert Smith and Freehills lawyers on Friday, confirming the two firms are in "exploratory talks".
According to sources, partners are now looking at the details, and it is yet to be confirmed whether there will be a partner vote.
The New Lawyer understands the merger, if it goes ahead, will be a "merger of equals" rather than a takeover. A merger would bring the combined firm's lawyer numbers to about 2000 internationally.
"No decision has been made by either party," a source said.
Freehills has been examining its international strategy and it is understood the firm has considered the possibility of a link-up with a major international firm for some time.
According to sources, it is understood the opportunity with Herbert Smith emerged from Freehills' ongoing International Strategy.
A spokesperson at Freehills said the two firms are undertaking "preliminary discussions about a potential link-up".
A source said it is too early to say whether any partners at either firm are "dead against" the merger. "There is a lot of detail to go through and there is more to come."
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