Law Firm Combinations Up 47% in 2013

Newtown Square, PA, January 8, 2014 — There were 88 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2013.  The total is up 47% from 2012, and is the highest number of law firm combinations recorded in the seven years that Altman Weil MergerLine has been compiling data.

“The surge in 2013 numbers was driven by a boom in acquisitions of small law firms,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “These kinds of deals are smart, low-risk moves to enter new markets and acquire new clients, and we expect the trend to continue in 2014.”

Of the 88 law firm combinations reported in 2013, 82% were acquisitions of firms with 20 or fewer lawyers.  This number of small firm acquisitions as a percentage of all combinations has been growing steadily since 2007 when only 63% of deals fell into that category, according to MergerLine data.

Even among the larger 2013 deals, most involved a bigger firm that was at least five times the size of a smaller firm with which it combined.   The noteworthy exception was the announced merger of Stinson Morrison Hecker, a 300-lawyer firm headquartered in Kansas City and Leonard Street Deinard, a 200-lawyer, Minneapolis-based firm. 

“Most law firm combinations these days are really acquisitions, not mergers,” commented Bower.  “The complexity of a true merger of equals is exponentially greater. There are any number of potential pitfalls on the way to the altar.”

Geographically, the Southern United States was the most active single region for law firm combinations in 2013, representing 25% of all recorded deals.  Fifteen percent of all deals occurred between firms in the Middle-Atlantic region.  Multi-regional combinations accounted for another 30% of the total.  

There were five cross-border combinations in 2013, representing 6% of all deals.  The largest was Hogan Lovells’ acquisition of 120-lawyer Routledge Modise in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The complete list of 2013 law firm mergers and acquisitions as well as an archive from prior years and a seven-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

Ward Bower
Principal
Altman Weil, Inc.
wbower@altmanweil.com

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