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Small law firm acquisitions drive record year in mergers

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Law firm combinations were up 47 percent in 2013, which is the highest number of combinations recorded in the seven years that Altman Weil MergerLine has been compiling data, the organization announced Wednesday.

The surge in mergers last year was driven by a boom in acquisitions of small law firms, said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.

“These kinds of deals are smart, low-risk moves to enter new markets and acquire new clients, and we expect the trend to continue in 2014,” he said.

Of the 88 law firm combinations reported in 2013, 82 percent were acquisitions of firms with 20 or fewer lawyers. Most of the larger deals in 2013 involved a bigger firm that was at least five times the size of a smaller firm with which it combined.

Bower also pointed out that most of the law firm combinations these days are actually acquisitions, not mergers.

“The complexity of a true merger of equals is exponentially greater. There are any number of potential pitfalls on the way to the altar,” he remarked.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP recently completed its merger with Chicago firm Shefsky & Forelich. Four other firms with Indiana ties combined in 2013. In June, Lorch and Naville and Ward King Agnew in New Albany combined to create a 14-attorney firm of Lorch Naville Ward LLC. In September, Fort Wayne firm Federoff Kuchmay LLP merged with Carson Boxberger LLP, upping the total of attorneys at Carson Boxberger to 27.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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