Cross-Border Deals Highlight of Law Firm Merger Market in 2012

Newtown Square, PA, January 7, 2013 — There were 60 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2012.  The annual total matched the 2011 total of 60 deals, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.  After a year largely characterized by small strategic acquisitions, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw four large, international law firm combinations announced. 

“There were 19 new law firm combinations announced in the fourth quarter, including the four major cross-border deals” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “We’ve now seen nine straight quarters of steady deal-making since the legal industry shook off the worst effects of the recession.”

In November, US law firm Fulbright & Jaworski and UK-based Norton Rose announced they would combine to form a 3,750-lawyer firm.  Also in November, New York-based SNR Denton announced two mergers, one with European law firm Salans, and a second with Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain.  Together the three firms will form a new 2,500-lawyer international law firm.

In December, K&L Gates announced the acquisition of 300-lawyer Australian law firm Middletons, a combination that will put K&L over 2,000 lawyers in 2013.

Along with these four deals, there were five additional cross-border combinations involving US firms in 2012, for a total of nine — the largest number recorded since MergerLine began tracking the market in 2007. 

K&L Gates made a second international acquisition in 2012, picking up 9-lawyer Marini Salsi Picciau in Milan.  Baker & McKenzie, a 3,800 lawyer international law firm headquartered in Chicago, acquired two law firms outside the US: 91-lawyer Estudio Echecopar in Lima and 16-lawyer Rudolph Bernstein & Associates in Johannesburg.  DLA Piper acquired 26-lawyer Frieh Bouhenic in Paris.

In a smaller deal, 72-lawyer San Francisco law firm Carroll Burdick & McDonough acquired 5-lawyer Schweiger & Partners in Munich.

There were two other noteworthy combinations in 2012. Atlanta-based McKenna Long & Aldridge merged with California law firm, Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps in March, forming a new firm of over 550 lawyers.  In July, national personal injury firm Jacoby & Meyers combined with Chicago-based Macey Bankruptcy Law creating a firm of 300 lawyers. 

The majority of 2012 combinations were small mergers and acquisitions, including 47 deals (78%) that involved the acquisition of small law firms with 20 or fewer lawyers, and seven deals (12%) in which the acquired firm had between 21 and 100 lawyers. 

The complete list of 2012 law firm mergers and acquisitions as well as an archive from prior years and a six-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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