Law Firm Combinations Start to Bounce Back

Download a copy of the 2020 Q3 charts

OCTOBER 1, 2020 - There were twenty law firm combinations announced in the US in the third quarter of 2020 according to Altman Weil MergerLine, a significant jump from the second quarter when only seven deals were logged. Although trending upward, the total year-to-date merger and acquisition count is 44, just over half of the 85 combinations announced in the first three quarters of 2019. 

“Law firm merger activity is starting to bounce back,” says Altman Weil principal Tom Clay. “Most deals are between smaller firms seeking to fortify themselves in a COVID-weakened legal market, but midsize and larger law firms are beginning to reengage in strategies to acquire smaller firms."

The largest deal of the third quarter was made by Dentons, a New York based global law firm and perennial acquirer, which announced its intention to combine with 96-lawyer Salt Lake City firm, Durham Jones & Pinegar, as part of the Dentons 'Golden Spike' US expansion plan. 

Fennemore Craig, a 124-lawyer Mountain West firm, entered California for the first time with the addition of 46-lawyer Dowling Aaron. 

Dentons said they will combine with 18-lawyer East African Law Chambers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the sole international deal of the quarter.

Three AmLaw law firms made small acquisitions with a focus on practice expertise. K&L Gates added 3-lawyer Richards Patent Law in Chicago.  Bond Schoeneck picked up The Wolford Law Firm, a 3-lawyer litigation boutique in Rochester, New York.  Miles & Stockbridge acquired 2-lawyer immigration firm, Taylor & Ryan in Pikesville, Maryland.

Overall, 90% of Q3 deals were acquisitions of firms with 20 or fewer lawyers and 65% were small same-state combinations. Combination activity in the quarter was relatively even across all regions of the US.

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 complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2020 as well as reports and analysis of the law firm merger market since 2007 are available online 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

Tom Clay
Altman Weil, Inc.
tsclay@altmanweil.com 
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