Law Firm Mergers On The Rise In The US

Q.1 of 2009 was a busy one for law firm Mergers, according to Altman Weil’s latest MergerLine report.

The National Law Journal reports

During the first three months of the year, law firms announced 24 mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, 12 previously announced mergers went into effect.

The new mergers primarily involved the acquisition of smaller firms — those with 25 or fewer attorneys. Only one merger occurred between two sizable firms, which was K&L Gates’ combination with Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, a Chicago firm with about 250 attorneys.

Altman Weil principal Thomas Clay attributes the dearth of large-firm mergers to the fact that bigger firms generally have been hit hardest by the economy, specifically with the evaporation of capital markets and corporate legal work.

"The bulk of these deals were in the works in 2008," Clay said. "As law firms got a look at how 2009 was shaping up, the activity definitely slowed but didn’t stop." Clay said he doesn’t think that the relatively high number of couplings in the first quarter indicate that 2009 will be a hot year for mergers.

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