’Tis the season for more than just chestnuts, eggnog and open fires. Shortly after the news broke yesterday that Bryan Cave and Holme Roberts & Owen will merge, the presses started whirring to life once again to announce the union of another set of law firms.

Washington, D.C.-based Arnold & Porter is slated to merger with San Francisco-based Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin. The confluence of firms will employ 160 attorneys in California and about 800 others across the rest of the U.S. and Europe.

“We are very excited about this combination,” Arnold & Porter Chair Tom Milch said in a statement. “We have worked hard to get to know each other well, and the fit is incredibly good. The caliber of Howard Rice’s lawyers is unmatched, and the two firms share the same core values, including a commitment to legal excellence, diversity, and pro bono work. We are not only strengthening our presence in California, but we are doing it with individuals who complement the skill sets we offer elsewhere in the firm.”

In addition to growing Arnold & Porter’s West Coast presence, the merger is expected to bolster its employment, tax law and professional liability practices. For Howard Rice, the deal will help the firm to remain competitive in the California marketplace and attractive to major clients.

“We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished since our founding in 1954,” said Howard Rice Chair Doug Winthrop, who will serve on Arnold & Porter’s Policy Committee. “Although in the past we have preferred to remain independent, we believe this time the opportunity for our clients and our attorneys was too good to pass up. With Arnold & Porter, we are teaming up with a firm that is dedicated to excellence, has a collegial culture like ours, and has outstanding practices that will be of enormous benefit to our clients.”

The merger is effective Jan. 1, 2012.