A source from the firm told Lawyers Weekly that a note was sent to all staff on Friday confirming that the Australian and UK firms are in “exploratory talks”.
A similar note was also sent to Herbert Smith staff late last week.
Lawyers Weekly understands that no formal partnership vote has been held on the possible merger, and that neither firm is working to a specified timetable.
Herbert Smith was previously linked to Blake Dawson before it entered into a formal merger arrangement with UK rival Ashurst.
While both firms are of a similar size, with around 1300 lawyers, Herbert Smith’s European and Middle East practice means it trumps its possible Australian suitor with regards to revenue.
In 2010-11, Herbert Smith’s revenue stood at just over ₤460 million ($678 million). Freehills’ revenue for the 2010-11 financial year is understood to have been around $510 million.