Troutman Pepper, Locke Lord in merger talks to create $1.6bn firm

Combination would create top 30 US firm with more than 1,700 lawyers

Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and Locke Lord are in talks to merge, in a tie-up that would create a top 30 US firm by revenue.  

The potential deal would create a firm with more than 1,700 lawyers and revenue of around $1.6bn. The firms “have entered into discussions about a possible combination”, spokespeople for both firms said in identical statements.  

They added that the firms’ priority was “delivering exceptional legal services to our clients, and as such, we will have no further comments at this time”.

Troutman Pepper, born of a 2020 merger between Atlanta-founded Troutman Sanders and Philadelphia-founded Pepper Hamilton, is by far the larger of the two firms. Its 1,100 lawyers brought in gross revenue of $1.08bn in 2023 according to the American Lawyer, the same as the year before and a figure that saw it rank just outside the US top 50.  

Meantime Locke Lord has around 600 lawyers and had turnover of $497.6m in 2023, a slight decrease from the $500.1m the firm brought in the year before, according to Pirical. The firm is similarly the product of a merger in 2007 of Texas-founded Locke Liddell & Sapp and Chicago-based Lord Bissell & Brook, growing further in 2015 through a tie-up with Boston firm Edwards Wildman.  

The two firms have similar levels of profitability and a near identical proportion of ranked lawyers, Pirical data shows (see table below). They also have overlapping strengths in banking and finance, corporate, litigation and real estate and in sectors including health care and life sciences, private equity and financial services.  

The merger would see Troutman Pepper gain strength across projects, energy and infrastructure – Locke Lord’s fourth largest practice – and a presence in Texas, where Big Law firms have been ramping up their presence to take advantage of energy sector work. Locke Lord has three offices across the state in Austin, Dallas and Houston.  

It would also see Troutman Pepper, which has 22 locations across the US, gain an international presence through Locke Lord’s offices in London and Brussels. The latter has 18 US offices, including seven that overlap with Troutman Pepper’s in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC. 

News of the talks comes amid a surge of merger activity among US law firms, with 20 completed in the first quarter according to Fairfax Associates, up from 16 in Q1 2023.  

Activity was focused on small and midsize firms, though there was a large merger – defined by both firms having at least 100 lawyers – between Cleveland-based Ulmer & Berne (175) and St. Louis-based Greensfelder Hemker & Gale (140).  

Last year the number of large mergers grew to five from just two the year before, as big firms looked to greater scale to outpace rivals and shore up profits. The largest was Miami-based Holland & Knight’s (1,400 lawyers) tie-up with Nashville-based Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis (257).  

Troutman Pepper’s potential tie-up with Locke Lord is the largest to emerge so far this year and comes ahead of Shearman & Sterling’s merger with Allen & Overy. Set to go live at the start of May, it will create a transatlantic behemoth with revenue in the region of $3.5bn.  

 Locke LordTroutman Pepper
Revenue per lawyer$908,000$966,000
Total lawyers6011,143
US offices1823
International offices20
Ranked lawyers*69142
% Ranked lawyers11%12%
Source Pirical, *Ranked by Chambers and Partners, IFLR or Legal 500

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