Business of Law

Law firms on track to top 2008 record of 70 mergers; tally 39 in first half of 2013

Updated: Law firms based in the U.S. are on track for a record number of mergers in 2013, if the second half of the year is anything like the first.

So far, as of the end of June, there were 39 law firm mergers announced. Twenty-one took place during the first quarter of the year, and another 18 happened in the second quarter, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. Another three have been added to the online list since then.

“The largest annual total for US law firm mergers was 70 in 2008,” says principal Ward Bower in a press release. “If the pace continues, it looks like 2013 will surpass that record.”

Among the largest planned deal is the expected acquisition by Husch Blackwell of Brown McCarroll. Adding 65 lawyers from the Texas firm brought its attorney roster to over 600. Meanwhile, megafirm Baker & McKenzie announced the only cross-border deal. It is acquiring Habib Al Mulla, a 45-lawyer firm in Dubai.

Is the sudden spurt in mergers a sign that the legal economy is improving?

“We had a strong first quarter and the second quarter started slowly but also ended strong,” Bower told the Am Law Daily. “I think we need to wait and see what happens in the next six months, but there’s a cautious optimism among some law firm leaders.”

Hat tip: Birmingham Business Journal.

See also: “Second-hundred largest firms ‘gambled on growth’ in 2012, boosting nonequity partners by 10 percent”

Financial Post: “Baker & McKenzie absorbs leading UAE firm”

South Florida Business Journal: “Marshall Grant tweets on law firm merger”

Updated on July 9 to include Am Law Daily coverage.

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