Drinker Biddle & Reath has become the third-largest Philadelphia-based law firm after announcing yesterday a union with 111-attorney, litigation-rich Shanley & Fisher of Morristown, N.J.

The two firms have been in serious discussions since February and have worked together on individual cases or deals for more than 20 years, according to Drinker chief financial officer Clifford Swain. Drinker partners and Shanley shareholders both have approved the deal, which will become official Nov. 1 as long as no unforeseen client conflicts arise.

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