Law Firm Mergers at Record High, Report Finds

Bloomberg BNA’s Corporate Law & Accountability Report is available on the Corporate Law Resource Center. This news service keeps corporate practitioners informed of legal developments of...

By Yin Wilczek

July 8 — There were 19 law firm consolidations in the second quarter, bringing the year's total so far to a record 48, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.

In a July 6 report, the consultant said 2015's mid-year number is the highest since it began compiling the data nine years ago.

The consultant also said that the largest consolidation in the second quarter is the merger between Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge, which was completed July 1. That combination created a new Dentons US LLP comprising 1,100 attorneys and legal professionals in 21 locations in the U.S., including New York, Washington, Chicago and Silicon Valley.

Dentons also has announced its intention to merge with Chinese firm Dacheng, which Altman Weil said will make Dentons the largest law firm in the world with more than 6,000 attorneys.

Active Market 

In the meantime, Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger said the law firm acquisitions market will continue to be “extremely active for the foreseeable future.”

“In 2015 headcount growth is usually not the primary driver of these deals—although Dentons might be an exception,” Seeger said in the report. “Most firms are pursuing strategic, incremental additions with an eye on profit growth rather than headcount.”

According to Altman Weil, of the 19 mergers in the second quarter, 15 were buyouts of law firms with 20 or fewer lawyers. It also said that Chicago and Houston remain “desirable markets” for large law firms to expand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at ywilczek@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

The report is available at http://www.altmanweil.com/index.cfm/fa/r.resource_detail/oid/8f9c2fb4-8395-4371-b5bf-e04ce6bf5ddc/resource/Record_Number_of_Law_Firm_Combinations_Through_MidYear.cfm.