The merger would be effective Jan. 1. Provided it is approved, Woodcock Washburn would be known as BakerHostetler.
Law-firm mergers have been occurring at a brisk pace nationally, and big full-service firms like BakerHostetler, and many of the large firms in Philadelphia, have been aggressively expanding intellectual-property practices by picking up smaller firms.
Woodcock Washburn, founded in 1946, had resisted such entreaties and remained one of a dwindling number of stand-alone intellectual-property firms.
"The opportunity brought about by the potential combination of the resources of Woodcock Washburn and BakerHostetler was too good to pass up," said Joseph Lucci, a member of the policy committee of Woodcock Washburn, who would become managing partner of BakerHostetler's Philadelphia office. "It's pretty compelling on both sides."
A spokeswoman for Woodcock Washburn said Friday that the firm would remain in the Cira Centre and that there would be no staff reductions.
Its merger with Woodcock Washburn will give BakerHostetler three additional offices. In addition to its location in Philadelphia, Woodcock Washburn has offices in Seattle, home of a major client, Microsoft Corp., and in Atlanta.
BakerHostetler has a wide-ranging practice encompassing business and transactional law, securities, legislative, and other areas. One of its more prominent recent engagements has been to serve as counsel to the court-appointed trustee seeking to recover funds lost in the $20 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff.