Pace of Law Firm Mergers Holds Steady in First Quarter of 2008

Newtown Square, PA, April 2, 2008 — There were 17 new law firm mergers and acquisitions reported in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2008, according to Altman Weil MergerLine™, an online tracking service hosted by legal management consultancy Altman Weil, Inc.  Two deals in the Southern U.S. were most significant.

The largest merger was between McGuireWoods LLP, a 750-lawyer firm headquartered in Richmond, VA, and Helms Mulliss & Wicker, a 145-lawyer firm in Charlotte, NC.  LeClairRyan and Wright Robinson Osthimer & Tatum, both Richmond-based firms, also announced their combination forming a 275-lawyer firm.

“The McGuire Woods and Helms Mullis deal, although a long time in consummation, is very significant,“ said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay.  “Although there are over 20 NLJ 250 firms in Charlotte, this combination provides McGuire Woods with one of the strongest, most well-positioned groups in a very hot market.  This will undoubtedly give rise to other overtures to Charlotte law firms.”

“LeClair Ryan continues its acquisitions, having acquired  45-lawyer Seiden Wayne in northern New Jersey last December,” noted Clay.  “The Wright Robinson acquisition gives them more than just additional depth and breadth, but unique litigation support capabilities as well.  That should be of interest to general counsel.”

From January through March 2008, MergerLine™ logged 15 additional U.S. law firm combinations. Fourteen were small regional acquisitions, six in the South, three in the Mid-West, three in the Middle Atlantic states, and one each in New England and the Western U.S.   The online service recorded one multi-regional combination of real estate boutiques in Atlanta and Baltimore.  The complete list is online at www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.

The pace of mergers has held steady over the last four quarters, with 16 or 17 mergers in each quarter.  However, the 17 mergers in first quarter of 2008 significantly surpassed the same time period in 2007, when only ten mergers were reported.

“We do not expect the pace to slacken in 2008, even in the face of a looming recession.  Many firms are talking and they will continue to make deals,” Clay added.

2007 Mergers Effective in 2008
There were ten additional mergers, announced in the fall of 2007, but effective in the first quarter of 2008.   They included the blockbuster mid-western merger of Blackwell Sanders (Kansas City) and Husch & Eppenberger (St. Louis) to form the 630-lawyer Husch Blackwell Sanders; K&L Gates’ acquisition of 150-lawyer, Texas-based,  Hughes & Luce; and the cross-border acquisition of Richards Butler Hong Kong by AmLaw 50 firm, Reed Smith.

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.

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Contact Information

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

Go to Altman Weil MergerLine™ to view the complete list of 2008 law firm mergers. 
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