Another record year for law firm combinations in the U.S. may not happen after all. The number of mergers slowed considerably over the summer after a very active first half of 2016, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.
The management consulting firm announced Thursday that there were just 12 combinations in the third quarter this year; 28 law firm combinations were announced in the second quarter of 2016. There were 20 mergers announced in the first quarter.
“One quarter does not make a trend,” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay in a statement. “There may be a number of deals closing in the fourth quarter, but we could be seeing a slowdown because there is not an infinite inventory of desirable acquisitions.”
One of those third-quarter combinations was Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP’s acquisition of mineral law specialists Rhine Ernest in Evansville. Bingham Greenebaum Doll made the announcement in August.
Of the 12 mergers announced in third quarter, all but one were acquisitions of firms with fewer than 20 lawyers, according to Altman Weil.
Since 2007, the number of law firm mergers and acquisitions has held steady around 60, with 2010 seeing only 39 combinations. But beginning in 2013, combinations exploded to 88, followed by 82 combinations in 2014. Last year ended with 91 law firm combinations.