With another record-setting year of US law firm mergers, the trend is for combinations between bigger firms.
The high-water mark of 102 mergers set in 2017 could be overtaken before the year ends, according to legal consultant Altman Weil Inc’s MergerLine which tracks news reports of law firm mergers. Twenty-one mergers occurred between US law firms in the second quarter of 2018, bringing the total to 51 at the year’s midpoint. This puts 2018 on pace for yet another record setting year.
Commenting, Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger said: 'We've gotten used to the constant drumbeat of law firm combinations, but what's new is the size of some firms being acquired. Already this year, four US law firms, each with over a hundred lawyers, have traded their independence for the security and heft of a larger platform. That says a lot about the intensity of market competition in 2018.’ The largest deal announced in the quarter, was the combination of Clark Hill, a 450-lawyer regional law firm based in Detroit, with 195-lawyer, Dallas-based Strasburger & Price. Strasburger is the third large Texas law firm to be rolled up into a larger regional firm in 2018, following 300-lawyer Andrews Kurth which merged with Hunton & Williams and 230-lawyer Gardere Wynne which combined with Foley & Lardner.
The second deal involving a 100+ lawyer law firm was the announced combination of 600-lawyer, East-Coast regional law firm Nelson Mullins and 160-lawyer, Florida firm Broad and Cassel. Global law firm Dentons made its eighth acquisition of 2018, adding 44-lawyer Hawaiian law firm, Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing. Philadelphia-based, AmLaw 100 law firm Fox Rothschild acquired two law firms this spring. In May, the firm doubled its Chicago presence with the addition of 23-lawyer Shaw Fishman Glantz & Towbin. In June, the firm bolted on 6-lawyer Rollin Braswell Fisher to grow their Denver office. In the only cross-border acquisition of the quarter, 1,500-lawyer, AmLaw 100 law firm Littler Mendelson added a new European office by acquiring 8-lawyer Dutch labour and employment boutique CLINT in Amsterdam. Several AmLaw 200 firms made small US acquisitions in the quarter. The data report can be downloaded here.