Law Practice Management

Like Troutman, Many Law Firms Think Bigger is Better

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Updated: Law firms big and small have the urge to merge, seeking to appeal to the many corporations that look to major law firms for legal representation.

So far this year, there have been 43 law firm mergers announced, compared to 60 for all of 2007, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The pace of mergers has exploded this quarter,” legal consultant Bill Brennan of Altman Weil tells the newspaper.

In Atlanta, the latest law firm marriage plans include an intellectual property boutique, 25-attorney Needle & Rosenberg, becoming a satellite office of Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, which has 550 lawyers, and the Troutman Sanders acquisition of Washington, D.C.-based Ross, Dixon & Bell. With Ross Dixon’s 100, that will put the total Troutman attorney roster at 750.

Founding partner Bill Needle didn’t want to merge a few years ago, but now says being a part of Ballard Spahr offers his firm more stability. Similar concerns appear to be driving the Troutman Sanders growth.

“Robert W. Webb Jr., Troutman’s managing partner since 1993, when the firm had 167 lawyers, said the move doubles its Washington office to 105 lawyers,” the newspaper recounts, noting that the merger also provides Troutman with an insurance coverage practice group. Says Webb: “It’s much more difficult to build a practice from the ground up.”

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Updated at 6:45 p.m., central time, to add related coverage.

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