27 Law Firm Combinations Announced in First Quarter of 2019

Download a copy of the 2019 Q1 MergerLine charts

Small Strategic Acquisitions Propel First Quarter Activity


April 2, 2019 — There were 27 law firm combinations announced in the US in the first quarter of 2019 according to Altman Weil MergerLine. The volume of deals continues unabated after a record-setting 106 law firm mergers and acquisitions recorded in 2018.  All deals announced in the quarter were acquisitions of small law firms with fewer than 20 lawyers.

“Small, strategic acquisitions usually provide a high-value return on investment,” says Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger.  “Unlike a lateral group that may not successfully retain their full complement of clients after a move, a whole-firm pick up is more of a sure bet for the acquirer. A well-branded boutique firm can also effectively open doors for the acquirer in a competitive practice or geographic market.”

Porter Wright, a 200-lawyer firm based in Columbus, Ohio made the largest acquisition of the quarter, adding 19-lawyer Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd to enter the Chicago market.

Littler, a global labor & employment firm based in Los Angeles, continued its European expansion with the acquisition of twelve-lawyer Homble Olsby in Oslo, its first Scandinavian location. In another cross-border deal, Detroit-based Clark Hill acquired nine-lawyer O'Gradys Solicitors in Dublin.

Other acquisitions by top tier firms included, Smith Gambrell's acquisition of twelve-lawyer Mazursky Constantine bulking up their Atlanta office with an employee benefits specialty firm; Washington DC-based Arent Fox's addition of seven-lawyer Kay & Merkle in San Francisco; and Fisher Phillips' pick up of six-lawyer Farrington Law in Bethesda, Maryland.

Two large firms strengthened their health care practices through acquisitions. Southern regional law firm, Bradley Arant acquired two-lawyer Rogaliner Firm in Dallas; and, Buchalter expanded in Sacramento with two-lawyer Koenig Caprile & Berk.

Two thirds of the law firms that made acquisitions in the first quarter of 2019 were firms with under 100 lawyers, and the bulk of these deals were small, same-state combinations in the Middle Atlantic, Midwest and Southern United States.

"A lot of small, local combinations arise because of the retirement of a founder or major originator," explains Seeger.  "For a small firm, a merger is often the best succession strategy."

About Altman Weil MergerLine™
Altman Weil MergerLine™ logs law firm combinations as they are reported by media outlets and in press releases; links the user to the original news stories; and, compiles key statistics on each deal.  The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2019 as well as reports and analysis of the law firm merger market since 2007 are available online at www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.
     
About Altman Weil
Founded in 1970, Altman Weil, Inc. is dedicated exclusively to the legal profession.  It provides management consulting services to law firms, law departments and legal vendors worldwide.   The firm is independently owned by its professional consultants, who have backgrounds in law, industry, finance, marketing, administration and government.   More information on Altman Weil can be found at www.altmanweil.com.

Contact Information

Eric A. Seeger
Principal
Altman Weil, Inc.
eseeger@altmanweil.com  
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