Small Acquisitions Dominate Law Firm Merger Activity

Deal volume remains high continuing 2013 trend

Newtown Square, PA, April 2, 2014 — There were 22 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the first quarter of 2014, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.  After a record-setting year in 2013, the pace of US law firm combinations carries on unabated.

“The trends we tracked in 2013 continue into the first quarter of 2014,” says Altman Weil principal Ward Bower. “Deal volume remains high, but the majority of those deals are acquisitions of very small law firms.” 

Of the 22 law firm combinations announced in January, February and March 2014, 18 (82%) were acquisitions of small law firms with 15 or fewer lawyers.  Four deals were more sizeable.

The largest deal announced in the first quarter of 2014 was the combination of Buchanan Ingersoll, a 425-lawyer firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, and Fowler White Boggs, a 92-lawyer Florida law firm. 

Cincinnati-based Dinsmore & Shohl added to its headquarters office with the acquisition of 35-lawyer public finance firm Peck Shaffer & Williams, pushing the firm over the 500-lawyer mark.

Marshall Dennehey, a 471-lawyer Philadelphia-based insurance defense firm, announced it would expand its New York presence with the addition of 30-lawyer Jones Hirsch Connors Miller & Bull. 

In the only true merger of the quarter, two mid-sized Tennessee firms combined to jump up the league tables in that state.  Knoxville-based Lewis King Krieg & Waldrop merged with Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell in Memphis to form Lewis Thomason, a new 91-lawyer firm.

There were two additional noteworthy acquisitions.  McCarter & English, a 400-lawyer firm based in Newark NJ acquired 14-lawyer energy boutique, Miller Balis & O’Neil, giving them a Washington DC presence.  AmLaw 100 law firm, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan made the only cross-border deal of the quarter, acquiring 5-lawyer Arbis LLP, a London commodities boutique which becomes Sutherland’s first overseas office.

“Each of these deals, whether designed to enhance geographic footprint, practice offerings or depth of expertise, represents an accelerated alternative to slower, more costly organic growth,” according to Bower.  “In today’s ultra-competitive environment, law firms are getting more and more interested in ‘buying’ these enhancements rather than ‘building’ them over time.”
The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2014 as well as an archive from prior years and a seven-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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