Law Firms Grow Through Targeted Acquisitions

Newtown Square, PA, October 1, 2012 — There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the third quarter of 2012, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   Of the 14 combinations reported, four were mergers and ten were acquisitions of small law firms. 

“Law firms continue to make acquisitions, but they are proceeding with a little more caution in 2012,” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay.  “Most of the deals we’re seeing are small, highly targeted moves to boost expertise or enhance geographic footprint.  Firm leaders want to be sure they’re matching supply with demand to avoid diluting firm productivity even in the short term.”  

The largest merger of the quarter was that of national personal injury firm Jacoby & Meyers with Chicago-based Macey Bankruptcy Law resulting in a combined firm of 300 lawyers with 135 offices in 50 states. 

DLA Piper, the second largest law firm in the US, announced its intention to acquire Frieh Bouhenic, a 26-lawyer law firm in Paris.  Pepper Hamilton, a 500-lawyer firm headquartered in Philadelphia, acquired white-collar defense boutique Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan in Wilmington, Delaware, adding eight lawyers. 

Two southeastern regional firms targeted Florida for acquisitions.  Birmingham, Alabama-based Balch & Bingham announced its second acquisition of the year and first Florida office, picking up six-lawyer Stoneburner Berry in Jacksonville.  Burr & Forman, another Birmingham-based firm, expanded into Tampa with the acquisition of 23-lawyer Williams Schifino Mangione & Steady. 

Wyatt Tarrant & Combs based in Louisville acquired 9-lawyer, estate-planning firm Williams McDaniel in Memphis.  Southwestern regional firm, Fennemore Craig enhanced their presence in Nevada with the acquisition of 23-lawyer Jones Vargas bringing their headcount to 200 lawyers.
 
There has been a total of 39 law firm combinations announced in the first nine months of 2012: 14 reported in the first quarter, 11 in the second quarter, and 14 in third quarter of the year.  This is just slightly off pace from the 43 combinations announced in the same period in 2011.

The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2012 as well as an archive from prior years and a five-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

Thomas S. Clay
Principal
Altman Weil, Inc.
tsclay@altmanweil.com

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