Business of Law

Law firm mergers are up 41 percent so far this year

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Law firm mergers are booming, according to a tally by a legal consulting firm.

Fifty-eight law firm combinations were announced in the first three quarters of the year, a 41 percent increase from the same period last year, according to a press release by Altman Weil. Nineteen mergers and acquisitions were announced in just the third quarter.

The largest deal of the year is the merger of Stinson Morrison Hecker and Leonard Street and Deinard. The new firm will be called Stinson Leonard Street.

Stinson Morrison is among three law firms based in Kansas City that have announced big mergers in the past few years. In 2009, Polsinelli Shugart was created as a result of the merger of two Kansas City-based firms. And in 2008, Husch Blackwell was created through the merger of law firms based in Kansas City and St. Louis.

The press release quotes Altman Weil principal Tom Clay. “A large combination of similarly sized firms—what we call a ‘merger of equals’—is relatively rare,” he said. “There have been fewer than a dozen in the last six years, and the majority have been between Midwestern law firms.”

Clay says Midwestern firms “that have maxed out in their local markets” are seeking more diverse platforms through mergers.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. to substitute “and” for an ampersand.

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