Slow economy, fewer mergers

October 8, 2008
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Here’s more proof that law firms are struggling in this economy: opportunities for mergers are lessening.

When I think of the economy worsening, I think law firms that are teetering on the brink of going under would try to find another firm to merge with as a way to save costs, combine efforts, and attract or keep clients.

But here’s an interesting observation from Altman Weil Mergerline, an online tracking service from the legal management consulting company Altman Weil, that didn’t cross my mind: the volatile economy we are currently experiencing is actually slowing mergers. So it seems, those firms who are struggling to stay afloat right now and may think merging with a stronger firm is the best way to keep the firm going may be surprised to find firms hunkering down and holding off on merging.

Despite the current slowdown, Altman Weil reports to date, 2008 has already seen 14 more mergers than in 2007, despite the fact third-quarter deals are down from last quarter.

According to Altman Weil, our state has already had three firm mergers this year: Sommer Barnard becoming Taft Stettinius & Hollister; Warsaw firm Miner Lemon & Walston merging with Indianapolis firm Stallwood Law Office; and McTurnan & Turner joining forces with Bingham McHale. In August, Indianapolis firm Coleman Stevenson announced it was merging with the Montel Law Firm of Carmel.

With the volatile economy, do you think Indiana will see any more mergers this year?
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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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