Record Pace for US Law Firm Combinations at Midyear

Small Firms Are Acquirers and Targets of Acquisition

Newtown Square, PA, July 6, 2016 — There were 28 law firm combinations announced in the US in the second quarter of 2016, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. There have been a total of 48 deals announced in the first half of 2016 – matching the record pace of 2015 which ended with a total of 91 combinations.

Activity centered on small firms in the second quarter.  Twenty six of the deals announced (93%) were acquisitions of law firms with fewer than 25 lawyers, continuing a multi-year trend of small targeted law firm acquisitions.  Additionally, nearly half (43%) of all acquirers were law firms with 50 or fewer lawyers, all of which made same-city or same-state moves to bulk up a local position.  

“Small firms are increasingly vulnerable in the current market,” says Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger.  “There’s more competition for less work, and small firms need a strategy to avoid being squeezed out. That may mean building a bigger platform or being acquired by a firm that already has a broader foundation.” 

The only large deal of the quarter was a mid-western merger.  Kansas-City based Husch Blackwell announced its combination with 144-lawyer Wisconsin firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek to bring their total headcount over 700 lawyers.

Florida, California and New York, hot geographic markets for expansion over the last several years, were the focus of attention for large law firms in April, May and June 2016. Additionally, there were four international acquisitions announced in the quarter

Philadelphia-based law firms were active acquirers.  Cozen O’Connor added 15-lawyer, Miami intellectual property litigation firm Feldman Gale.  Fox Rothschild picked up 3-lawyer Rothenberg Hyett in Boca Raton and 3-lawyer Myers Kenney in San Francisco. In late June, Blank Rome announced it would add a California firm, bolting on 4-lawyer family law firm Phillips Lerner in Los Angeles.

Three AmLaw firms acquired New York City law firms.  Florida-based Greenspoon Marder acquired 9-lawyer Jacob Medinger & Finnegan.  Boies Schiller added 5-lawyer O’Shea Partners to its NYC headquarters office.  Wilson Elser absorbed 3-lawyer Jankoff & Gabe. 

Three US-UK deals were announced.  Holland & Knight expanded to London, acquiring 6-lawyer transportation finance firm Clark Ricketts. Haynes & Boone said it would add its first European office via a combination with 20-lawyer London firm Curtis Davis Garrard. Clyde & Company, an 1800-lawyer London-based law firm, will open its sixth US office with the addition of 18-lawyer, Miami insurance defense firm Thornton Davis & Fein.

On the last day of the quarter DLA Piper announced it would acquire a 21-lawyer Swedish law firm, Gronberg Advokatbyra.

The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2016 as well as an archive from prior years and a nine-year trend summary are available online at www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.

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 online service also includes an archive of past mergers and a section of commentary and analysis.  Learn more 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 Seeger
Principal
Altman Weil, Inc.
eseeger@altmanweil.com  

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