Merger Slowdown Attributed to "Dewey Effect"

Newtown Square, PA, July 2, 2012 — The number of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States dipped to eleven in the second quarter of 2012, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   This follows six strong quarters of deal flow that averaged 15 mergers per quarter between October 2010 and March 2012.

“We think the decline in law firm mergers and acquisitions in the second quarter can be attributed to what we’re calling the ‘Dewey Effect’,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower. “The demise of Dewey LeBoeuf this spring put over a thousand lawyers and hundreds of millions of dollars of business into play, shifting the short-term focus of many law firms to those opportunities.” 

Ten of the eleven combinations announced were acquisitions of small law firms with fewer than ten lawyers.  The eleventh deal, announced at the end of June, was a merger of two small Columbus, Ohio law firms, Isaac Brant and Wiles Boyle.

After a strong start in April, with seven deals reported, the pace slowed to only two combinations in May and two in June. 

“A steady stream of Dewey LeBoeuf partners were leaving the firm, individually and in groups, throughout the month of May before Dewey filed for Chapter 11 on May 28th,” explained Bower. “This influx of high-quality laterals into the market coincides with the drop off in merger activity in May and June.”

Two large law firms made acquisitions in the second quarter of 2012.  Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a 415-lawyer firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, acquired seven-lawyer Pittsburgh litigation boutique, Manion McDonough & Lucas.  Frost Brown Todd, a 440-lawyer firm based in Cincinnati, acquired MGLAW, PLLC, increasing Frost Brown’s Nashville office by seven lawyers.

Additionally, Balch & Bingham, a southeastern regional law firm with over 200 lawyers, added seven-lawyer Presley Burton & Collier to its Birmingham, Alabama headquarters office.  Clark Hill, a 200-lawyer, Detroit-based firm, acquired Kupelian Ormond & Magy, a law firm with nine lawyers in Southfield, Michigan. Charleston, West Virginia-based Jackson Kelly acquired Gormly Gormly & Yuhas, a four-lawyer oil and gas boutique in Indiana, Pennsylvania. 

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

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
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


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Ward Bower
Altman Weil, Inc.

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