Saul Ewing, a long-established Center City firm with widely respected litigation, transactional, and white-collar defense practices, is in merger talks with Arnstein & Lehr, a Chicago-based law firm with a presence in Florida.

The merger would create a 400-lawyer firm and expand Saul Ewing's presence beyond its 11 offices in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

With 260 lawyers, Saul Ewing is known mainly as a regional law firm, but a merger with Arnstein & Lehr would give it far more national reach. Most of Arnstein & Lehr's 140 lawyers are based in Chicago, but it also has four offices in Florida. On its face, the merger would appear to offer advantages to both firms in that there is no geographical overlap.

In Florida, Arnstein & Lehr has offices in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. The firm has numerous practice groups spanning litigation, appellate, aviation, and other areas.

"Saul Ewing and Arnstein & Lehr confirm that they are engaged in discussions about a potential combination," said Leslie Gross, representative for Saul Ewing. "Both firms will continue discussions and will share more if and when it is appropriate."

Saul Ewing has long been a key player in Philadelphia's legal community and has well-established ties to business and government leaders in Pennsylvania and beyond. Among other clients, the firm is defending Pennsylvania State University in various civil lawsuits arising out of the Jerry Sandusky sexual molestation scandal.

But with legal revenues stagnant throughout the profession, there is pressure on firms to grow as a way to increase market share. Saul Ewing's current contingent of 260 lawyers makes it modestly sized in comparison to onetime peer firms such as Duane Morris and Fox Rothschild, each with about 700 lawyers.