Archive for the ‘Law firm growth’ Category

2012 lateral trends

January 31st, 2013 by Altman Weil

The American Lawyer has published a new report on the lateral trends for 2012.  According to their survey, 2,691 lawyers moved in or out of AmLaw 200 law firms last year, up about 10% from 2011.

One of the key drivers of lateral movement can be a big firm failure that suddenly releases hundreds of lawyers into the market, like that of Dewey & LeBoeuf in 2012.  This is a phenomenon that Altman Weil’s Ward Bower has dubbed “the Dewey effect.”  It can also depress the law firm merger market in the short term, as we observed in the second quarter of 2012.

Setting aside extraordinary events, the 2012 lateral market was strong.

“The market’s robustness demonstrates how firms continue to rely on lateral hiring to fuel revenue growth, build practice areas, and broaden their geographic reach. “Everyone is doing it, and reasons number one, two, and three are to buy business,” says Altman Weil Inc. consultant Thomas Clay. “Laterals with books of business are in demand, and it’s not going to go away.”

Read it at The American Lawyer

Another strong year for law firm mergers

January 14th, 2013 by Altman Weil

There were 60 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2012.  The annual total matched the 2011 total of 60 deals, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.  After a year largely characterized by small strategic acquisitions, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw 19 new combinations.  This marks nine straight quarters of steady deal-making since the legal industry shook off the worst effects of the recession.

There were nine cross-border combinations involving US firms in 2012 — the largest number recorded since MergerLine began tracking the market in 2007. 

Read it at Altman Weil

Law firms making targeted acquisitions

October 2nd, 2012 by Altman Weil

There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the third quarter of 2012, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   Of the 14 combinations reported, four were mergers and ten were acquisitions of small law firms. 

“Law firms continue to make acquisitions, but they are proceeding with a little more caution in 2012,” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay.  “Most of the deals we’re seeing are small, highly targeted moves to boost expertise or enhance geographic footprint.  Firm leaders want to be sure they’re matching supply with demand to avoid diluting firm productivity even in the short term.”  

Read it at Altman Weil

Law firm growth options and 5-year outlook

August 8th, 2012 by Altman Weil

The 2012 Law Firms in Transition Survey asked firm leaders about their growth plans for 2012 and their expectations for firm growth over the next five years.  This special report from the survey highlights lateral growth, new offices, mergers and acquisitions and breaks out the results by firm size.

Read it at Altman Weil

Small firm mergers predominate in first quarter

April 9th, 2012 by Altman Weil

There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the first quarter of 2012, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   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. 

Read it at Altman Weil

Download a list of first quarter mergers 

In a related article, the New York Law Journal looked at why small firms give up their independence to merge with larger entities.  Altman Weil principal Bill Brennan commented in the story:

“…many small firms have entered merger talks because the recession was a shock and they are now seeking some financial security as the economy recovers.

“If a law firm liked being a standalone entity, it had absolutely no difficulty in doing so,” [Brennan] said. Over the last 18 months, the legal market “has transitioned to a buyer’s market” for clients “where there’s not enough work to go around.”

Read it at New York Law Journal

Law firms growing again

March 26th, 2012 by Altman Weil

The 2012 NLJ 250 - ALM’s list of the 250 largest US law firms - was released today, and it looks like firms are starting to grow a little again:

“After three years of flat to negative growth, 2011 was the year that the nation’s 250 largest law firms started getting bigger again.

Headcount among NLJ 250 firms was up a collective 2,132 lawyers…. That represented growth of 1.7 percent — in line with the average increase during the past 10 years, but well below the 4 to 5 percent growth rate of the 2005-08 go-go years….

Ward Bower, a law firm management consultant with Altman Weil Inc., said most of the firms that made the difficult choice to downsize early in the recession are now looking to grow again. “The firms that hunkered down started dusting off their strategic plan and implementing it a little earlier than others,” he said. “And I hope next year we would see the vast majority of firms in growth mode.”

As an interesting side note, ALM tells us that the NLJ 250 is becoming the NLJ350 as of April 16th when they re-release the list with firms ranking 251-350 in size.

Read it at National Law Journal

Law firm merger market has strongest year since 2008

January 5th, 2012 by Altman Weil

There were 60 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2011.  The annual total was up 54% from 2010 and at the highest level since 2008, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.  Seventeen new combinations were announced in the fourth quarter, including three of the biggest deals of the year.

“The momentum for law firm mergers built throughout 2011 and the year ended very strongly,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “We think the trend toward larger deals will continue and the pace of mergers could accelerate in 2012.” 

Read it at Altman Weil

South Korean legal market opens to US firms

November 29th, 2011 by Altman Weil

South Korea is the latest target for US expansion according to today’s AmLaw Daily:

“Less than a week after a free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States was finalized, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton announced Monday that it plans to open a Seoul office…  The free trade agreement between South Korea and the U.S. allows U.S.-based law firms to advise on U.S. and international trade law and opens the doors to local alliances with Korean law firms. Starting in 2017, U.S. firms will also be able to merge with Korean firms or hire local lawyers.”

Other firms eying the market, according to AmLaw Daily, are Paul Hastings, Simpson Thacher, McDermott Will, and Ropes & Gray.

Read it at The AmLaw Daily

BigLaw Canada update

October 4th, 2011 by Altman Weil

Two interesting developments today - if you’re not watching the Canadian market, you should be!

“Norton Rose, the globe-straddling British law firm that swallowed up Montreal-based Ogilvy Renault LLP last year, is merging with Calgary-based Macleod Dixon LLP. The move gives the massive international law firm a renewed Canadian wing with a strong presence in the oil patch, and it stands to shake up this country’s legal landscape.”

Read it at The Globe and Mail

“Canada’s Gowlings has opened a representative office in Beijing, becoming the third Canadian firm to land in China.  The launch, which sees Gowlings follow Canadian counterparts Blake Cassels & Graydon and Bennett Jones into China, marks the firm’s third foray into international markets. The firm already has offices in Moscow and London.”

Read it at The Lawyer

US law firm mergers up 79% through third quarter

October 3rd, 2011 by Altman Weil

There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the third quarter of 2011, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.   The total number of 2011 combinations announced from January through September is 43, up 79% compared to the same nine-month period in 2010.

“It looks like the law firm merger market is back,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.  “This is the fourth strong quarter in row we’ve seen, and we’re aware of a lot of activity in the pipeline.” 

Read it at Altman Weil