Law Firm Mergers Surge in 2011

Newtown Square, PA, October 3, 2011 — There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the third quarter of 2011, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   The total number of 2011 combinations announced from January through September is 43, up 79% compared to the same nine-month period in 2010.

“It looks like the law firm merger market is back,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “This is the fourth strong quarter in row we’ve seen, and we’re aware of a lot of activity in the pipeline.” 

The largest law firm combination announced in the third quarter was 500-lawyer, Boston-based Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge’s acquisition of Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon, a 160-lawyer Chicago firm.  That deal was set to be finalized on October 1.

There were two other sizeable deals. Indianapolis-based Ice Miller announced its intention to merge with Columbus, Ohio firm, Schottenstein Zox and Dunn to form a new 300-lawyer law firm.   The acquisition of 67-lawyer Jackson, Mississippi firm, Watkins Ludlam by Jones Walker, a 300-lawyer New Orleans firm, was also announced.

The remaining eleven combinations were all acquisitions of firms with 35 or fewer lawyers, continuing the 2011 trend of smaller deals. 

Regional expansion continued to be a driver, with California as a target of interest for three firms.  Philadelphia’s Fox Rothschild and Kansas City based Polsinelli Shugart both picked up Los Angeles boutiques in the third quarter.  Dallas-based litigation firm McKool Smith acquired 35-lawyer Los Angeles firm, Hennigan Dorman.

LeClairRyan, headquartered in Richmond Virginia, made a rare New York City acquisition of 14-lawyer Biedermann Reif Hoenig & Ruff. 

The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2011 as well as an archive from prior years and a four-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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