What does the $15 million settlement Patton Boggs reached with Chevron Corp. last week mean for the teetering law firm? Foremost, it wipes away a problem — rooted in the firm’s fight against Chevron over environmental damage claims in Ecuador — that had poisoned merger discussions with Locke Lord, leaving the shrinking firm relatively clear from liability as it prepares for a union with the global firm Squire Sanders. Patton Boggs has been working on the merger since December. As recently as two months ago, the firm refused to entertain other suitors because of an exclusivity agreement, according to a lawyer familiar with a short-lived conversation Dentons had with Patton Boggs.

Patton Boggs partners may vote on the proposed merger later this month, according to another person privy to the discussions with Squire Sanders.

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