Maclay Murray & Spens, Scotland's biggest remaining independent firm, and City giant Addleshaw Goddard are remaining tight-lipped on rumours that they are preparing to merge.

Reports this morning suggested that partners are to vote on a merger that could be completed by 1 May next year.

That would coincide with the departure of Addleshaw Goddard senior partner Monica Burch (pictured), who today confirmed she will stand down after serving two three-year terms.

But both firms refused to comment on the reports of a merger, despite admitting they are open to the possibility of linking up with another practice.

An Addleshaw Goddard spokesman said: ‘We have consistently said that a merger at some point in the future is a possibility we would consider. It is an option we keep under regular review, but there is nothing to report.’

A spokesperson for Maclay Murray & Spens added: ‘MMS keeps in touch with other firms on an ongoing basis and sometimes such discussions encompass the possibility of collaboration of some kind.

‘Many of these conversations are exploratory and come to nothing.’

Any merger would raise questions about the survival of an independent Scottish legal profession.

Over the past four years, CMS Cameron McKenna has completed a takeover deal for Dundas & Wilson and Pinsent Masons has merged with Edinburgh-based McGrigors. English firms TLT, DWF and Shoosmiths have also established a presence north of the border.

If Maclays goes, only Shepherd and Wedderburn will remain of the traditional Scottish ‘big four’ law firms of just a few years ago.

One thing that Addleshaw Goddard has confirmed is the intention of Burch to end her time as senior partner from 30 April 2016.

Burch said: ‘A healthy business needs to ensure that no one becomes embedded in any of our leadership roles for too long a period of time.’

Partners have been and are still being consulted on the duties and responsibilities of the senior partner ahead of a successor to Burch being appointed next spring.