PORTLAND, Maine — Verrill Dana LLP, one of Maine’s largest law firms, has merged with another smaller Portland firm, to create the second largest law firm in the state.

The merger with Friedman Gaythwaite Wolf LLP, a 29-year-old firm with 12 lawyers in Portland, became official at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, according to K.C. Jones, Verrill Dana’s managing partner.

It is Verrill Dana’s first official merger in the firm’s 150-year history. The merged entities will retain the Verrill Dana name.

Jones said both parties think of the transaction as a merger rather than an acquisition.

“We think the combined firm will be more than the sum of its parts,” Jones told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday. “It is technically a merger and we are thinking of it as a merger.”

Details of the deal are not being disclosed, Jones said.

“I would tell you it is a true merger, but I can’t go beyond that with respect to details,” he said.

As a result of the merger, Verrill Dana will have 118 lawyers, 91 of whom are based in Maine.

“We are not the largest firm headquartered in Maine, but we think we’ll have the most Maine-based lawyers,” Jones said.

Verrill Dana has offices in Portland and Augusta, as well as Boston; Stamford, Conn.; and Washington, D.C.

Friedman Gaythwaite Wolf had just one office in Portland. Its lawyers specialized in several litigation areas, including complex commercial litigation, personal injury and professional liability disputes.

Jones said the merger will add to the “breadth and depth” of Verrill Dana’s services.

“Their practice is very complementary to ours,” Jones said. “We are adding existing experience in a number of new areas on the litigation side, but we’re also adding depth. They have 12 trial lawyers who will join our litigation practice and in today’s world of litigation, there’s increasing demand for specialized legal services and due to their complexities, there’s a need to take a team approach to legal problems. This merger will give us additional depth to take on more of these types of cases.”

Jones said a merger was pursued to increase its ability to service the firm’s clients, not a reaction to anything going on in Maine’s legal community.

“Maine businesses are becoming increasingly complex and becoming more regional, and we think that this merger allows us to better serve those clients in Maine and better serve clients outside of the state who many have operations in Maine,” Jones said.

“We are truly honored to become part of the Verrill Dana team and look forward to the wonderful opportunities that this merger creates,” said Martha Gaythwaite, Friedman Gaythwaite Wolf’s managing partner, in a statement. “The combination of our two outstanding firms will contribute to the depth and breadth of our individual practices while establishing a synergy conducive to meeting the varied needs of our clients.”

Nationally, law firms are merging in increasing numbers this year, according to data collected by legal consultancy Altman Weil. According to its quarterly report on law firm mergers, there have been 39 law firm mergers throughout the country during the first six months of 2013 (that’s now at least 40 with the Verrill Dana merger). Considering there were only 60 total mergers in 2012, 60 in 2011, and 39 in 2010, the number of law firm mergers potentially could hit a record this year.

Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.