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McMillan to merge with Lang Michener Add to ...

Toronto-based law firm McMillan LLP is expected to announce a merger on Tuesday with Lang Michener LLP in a move that would create large new national player with about 400 lawyers.

Sources familiar with the discussions said they expect the merger will be announced Tuesday, but neither firm would comment publicly beforehand.

McMillan's chief executive officer, Andrew Kent, is to meet with reporters Tuesday. He declined to comment on Monday. Bob Cranston, Lang Michener LLP's eastern managing partner, did not respond to requests for comment.

The two firms - whose Toronto offices are in the same Bay Street skyscraper - have been rumoured to be in merger talks recently. McMillan, with its other offices in Montreal and Calgary, appears to fit well with Lang Michener, which will bring to the new firm strong presences in Ottawa, Vancouver and a new office in Hong Kong.

McMillan's current incarnation is itself a creation of recent mergers: It combined with the Montreal firm Mendelsohn to create its Montreal office in 2005, and took over much of the Calgary office of Thackray Burgess in 2009.

Both firms have about 200 lawyers each. Both also have long histories, but have seen their one-time reputations as front-running Bay Street firms fade slightly in recent years. The merger may be an attempt to regain some of that lost clout, as competition for clients on Bay Street intensifies.

McMillan bills itself as "America's Canadian law firm," citing legendary partner Bill Binch, who drove his Oldsmobile across the U.S. Midwest in the 1940s and 1950s, signing up U.S. companies looking to expand into Canada.

The firm's history dates back to 1903. Its founder was Newton Rowell, who worked on the famous "Person's Case" that determined women were eligible to be appointed as senators. The firm became a leading business player after Gordon McMillan joined in 1921. In the 1980s, John Turner worked at McMillan before taking over as prime minister from Pierre Trudeau in 1984.

For years, Lang Michener has been rumoured to be part of potential mergers to other firms. It was founded over 80 years ago by Roland Michener, the governor-general, and Daniel Lang, a senator. It was also once home to Jean Chrétien, who practised law with the firm's Ottawa office from 1986 until 1990 before leading the Liberals to victory in 1993 and serving as prime minister.

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