Law Firms

Consultant Sees More Law Firm Mergers Ahead; $2B Club to Double in Size?

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Cross-border law firm mergers are on the upswing.

In the last month, three law firms announced cross-border mergers, and more deals are likely next year, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. By the end of next year, predicts U.K. legal consultant Tony Williams, mergers will likely boost the number of law firms with $2 billion or more in revenues from five to 10.

“There is a little bit of an arms race going on,” Williams told the newspaper.

The mergers give law firms access to new markets at a time when large corporations are winnowing the number of outside law firms hired. Law firms that can’t provide advice in regions where the companies operate risk losing their business, the story says.

Establishing new offices, rather than acquiring them in a merger, can be expensive, Williams points out. The cost of building a new office can cost between $5 million and $10 million a year, he tells the newspaper.

Recent merger announcements include:

• K&L Gates will merge with Australian firm Middletons, creating a firm of more than 2,000 lawyers. The merged firm will have full financial integration and will carry the K&L Gates name.

• Norton Rose will merge with Houston’s Fulbright & Jaworski to create a 3,800 lawyer law firm. The new firm will be called Norton Rose Fulbright.

• SNR Denton will combine with Salans and Fraser Milner Casgrain in a three-way merger. The new firm, which will be known as Dentons, will have more than 2,500 attorneys and professionals.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. to change wording of sentence.

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