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2015 record-breaking year for law firm combinations

January 6, 2016

The 91 law firm combinations announced in the United States last year is the highest annual total recorded by Altman Weil MergerLine, which has been compiling this data for nine years.

Last year’s number exceeds the total of 88 reported in 2013. Last year also saw the largest-ever law firm merger between 2,500-lawyer, New York-based firm, Dentons, and the 3,600-lawyer Chinese firm, Dacheng.

“Law firm mergers and acquisitions are a primary strategy to acquire new business in a market where demand is flat or constrained,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “The record number of deals in 2015 is a reflection of the intense competition among law firms for new work, and we expect the market to remain hot in 2016.”

Indianapolis-based Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman P.C., which has 187 attorneys, merged in October with Stewart Courington in Dallas, which had seven attorneys.

Of the 91 law firm combinations reported in 2015, 47 percent were acquisitions of firms with two to five lawyers.  An additional 30 percent of acquisitions were of firms with six to 20 lawyers. Overall, 77 percent of 2015 combinations were acquisitions of law firms with 20 or fewer lawyers, according to MergerLine data.

The complete list of 2015 law firm mergers and acquisitions as well as an archive from prior years and a nine-year trend summary are available online at www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.

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