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If Hogan & Hartson, the Washington giant, and Lovells, the most global of the leading U.K. firms, consummate their merger talks, the new entity has the potential for a name out of Harry Potter — Hogells — and a chance to remake a corner of the Big Law marketplace. It would be the first major trans-Atlantic merger of globally oriented equals. It would be the first trans-Atlantic deal that would be built, in significant part, on the strength of its combined litigation practices. It would be the first deal of its sort that didn’t pretend to offer entrée into the New York capital markets. And it would be a sign that while the Magic Circle and most financially elite New York firms continue to insist on their independent futures, firms just one step behind can see a future where a combination is greater than the sum of their parts.

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