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Law Practice Management

Law Firm Mergers Slow; Economy is Blamed

Posted Oct 7, 2008 9:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Law firm mergers and acquisitions slowed in the third quarter, and the reason is likely the troubled economy.

There were 14 law firm mergers announced in the third quarter, down from 26 in the previous quarter, reports legal consulting firm Altman Weil. In a press release, Altman Weil principal Ward Bower attributed the slowdown to the economy, but said avoiding mergers may be the wrong tack for some firms.

“The volatile economy may have a short-term negative impact on deal-making, causing some law firms to hunker down,” he said. “But cash-strong, well-capitalized firms will use the economic challenges faced by others as an opportunity to grow market share through acquisition.”

In one of the biggest deals of the quarter, Atlanta-based Alston & Bird acquired 80-lawyer Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish in Los Angeles. In another, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe acquired 50-lawyer German firm Hölters & Elsing.

Despite the slowdown, law firm mergers are outpacing those from last year by 58 to 44, the press release says. Altman Weil tracks mergers at MergerLine.

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