Pittsburgh-based Thorp Reed & Armstrong is in merger talks with Detroit-based Clark Hill, according to several sources.
Talks have been ongoing since last year, and, according to some sources, are expected to be finalized soon.
Cynthia Tonet-Stewart, chief marketing officer for Thorp Reed, said the firm is always exploring new ways to serve its clients, including law firm collaborations. But she said it is a firm policy not to discuss the names of any organization it may be talking to.
"We have many, many discussions with organizations and firms of all kinds," Ms. Tonet-Stewart said. Calls to Clark Hill CEO John J. Hern Jr. were not returned.
With Thorp Reed at about 100 lawyers firmwide, a merger most likely would mean it would be absorbed by the 220-lawyer Clark Hill, according to Dan Scott, an attorney headhunter with Clarkston, Mich.-based Movement.
But despite the size difference, Mr. Scott said the two firms are comparable. "The market [they] occupy is similar," he said, describing Clark Hill as a general-practice commercial firm.
Clark Hill has offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Birmingham and Lansing, Mich.; Washington, D.C.; Phoenix; and Chicago. Aside from its Pittsburgh headquarters, Thorp Reed has offices in Philadelphia; Wilmington, Del.; Princeton, N.J.; and Wheeling, W.Va.
Mr. Scott characterized Clark Hill as an "old-line firm," noting its history dating to 1890. In 1996, Clark, Klein and Beaumont merged with Hill Lewis to form Clark Hill. At the time, according to the firm, it was the largest merger of law firms in the history of Michigan.
Consummating a deal with Thorp Reed would be the second merger Clark Hill has undergone in less than a year. In June 2012, the nine attorneys and other staff of the Southfield, Mich.-based law firm Kupelian, Ormond & Magy merged into Clark Hill.
In 2012, the National Law Journal ranked Clark Hill 205th on its ranking of firms by attorney head count. At that time, Clark Hill had 196 lawyers, including 102 partners and 82 associates.
Noting that the firm has been "reasonably aggressive" in expanding in Chicago, Mr. Scott said he's not surprised Clark Hill would be interested in entering Pittsburgh, where it can market its Detroit rates as a relative bargain.
Thorp Reed's last merger was in 2008 when it combined forces with Philadelphia-based Kittredge, Donley, Elson, Fullem & Embick.