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IBA: Law Firm Mergers Hold Steady Nationally at Pre-Recession Pace

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There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the first quarter of 2012, according to Altlman Weil. This continues the rebound of law firm combinations that began in the fall of 2010 and held through all of 2011.

“We’ve averaged about 15 mergers and acquisitions in each of the last six quarters,” said Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger. “The pace of merger activity is holding steady at pre-recession levels.”

Typically, there are one or two big law firm mergers announced in the first quarter of the year, as well as a spate of small acquisitions and combinations — and 2012 is no exception. There was one large law firm merger in the quarter, while the balance of reported combinations involved either the acquisition of a firm with 20 or fewer lawyers, or the merger of two small firms.

In January, Atlanta-based McKenna Long & Aldridge announced its intention to merge with California law firm Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps. The merger, which was finalized in March, created a new firm of over 550 lawyers.

Five large law firms made geographic moves, expanding their footprints with small, strategic acquisitions. K&L Gates acquired Marini Salsi Picciau in Milan, giving the firm its first Italian office. Littler Mendelson moved into Memphis with the acquisition of labor and employment boutique Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather. Jackson Lewis strengthened its position in Milwaukee by combining with Simandl & Prentice. Baker Donelson made its second acquisition in the hot Houston market, with Drucker Rutledge & Smith. And, Womble Carlyle added an office in the South Carolina capital by acquiring Hall & Bowers in Columbia.

Carroll Burdick & McDonough, a San Francisco-based firm with 72 lawyers, made the only other cross-border deal of the quarter. The firm combined with Schweiger & Partners, a 5-lawyer, intellectual property boutique with offices in Germany and Singapore.

“In this type of combination, the larger firm is able to acquire new client relationships in new markets and the smaller firm is able to execute a transition that works for the partners and their clients,” Seeger explained.

In addition to the 14 new law firm combinations announced between January and March 2012, there were eleven deals announced at the end of last year that were finalized in the first quarter. This is also typical of the annual pattern of merger activity.

There were several noteworthy deals in this category, including Bryan Cave’s acquisition of Holme Roberts & Owen to create a firm with over 1,000 lawyers; and the merger between Faegre & Benson, a 447-lawyer firm headquartered in Minneapolis, and 323-lawyer, Indianapolis firm Baker & Daniels.•

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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