Clean reception: tick.
A spokesperson confirmed to RollOnFriday that "Leading transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson and leading UK firm BDB Pitmans confirm that they are in early discussions around a potential merger".
"Both firms regularly review opportunities to advance the best interests of their clients and their respective firms", said the spokesperson, adding that Womble Bond Dickinson and BDB Pitmans "are focused on where they see the greatest opportunities for a merged business, including those offered by complementary practice areas and office locations".
Both firms are old hands at growth-by-merger. In 2017 Bond Dickinson went transatlantic when it joined with US firm Womble Carlyle, which gave it the USP of offices in both Plymouth and Silicon Valley.
In the UK, Wombles employs over 580 fee-earners and approximately 480 support staff across seven offices. In 2021/22 the firm made an operating profit of £30m on turnover of £115m, and while it took a hefty £1.7m in furlough grants, it repaid the money in full in July 2021. The firm has around 100 equity partners, the most well-paid of whom was entitled to £528k in 2021/22, up from £442k the previous year.
BDB Pitmans is less than half the size of WBD, with around 220 fee earners and 175 support staff. Born of a merger between Bircham Dyson Bell and Thames Valley firm Pitmans in 2018, its turnover was just under £59m in 2021 and it generated profits of £16.6m to share between 74 equity partners, who, if they had all received equal shares, would have taken £225k each.
The merger talks are the biggest news for WBD since it threatened to sue the government for dropping it from a panel, and for BDB Pitmans since it suspended its then-COO. The most important matter for all parties now, though, is the name of the new firm if a merger goes ahead, and readers are hereby invited to pick it:
*Wombles once had a slight plagiarism issue, so who knows, it might go for it.