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More Mergers Expected After Slow ’09

Law firm mergers are expected to rise in 2010 after falling by 24 percent in 2009.

There were 53 mergers last year that involved law firms with 20 or fewer employees, according to a report by Altman Weil MergerLine. The report said law firms’ “cautious approach” in 2009 came as a direct result of the ailing economy.

“Most firms spent 2009 focused on internal issues of cost cutting, layoffs, and compensation adjustments in response to the Great Recession,” Altman Weil consultant Ward Bower said in a statement. “We expect to see an uptick in 2010 as deals currently on hold pending 2009 year-end results are finalized.”

London-based Lovells LLP and Washington-based Hogan & Harston LLP provided the biggest merger of 2009 with regards to number of lawyers involved. The two organizations have a combined 2,532 lawyers, according to the study. The firms’ partners voted to approve the merger last month. The new firm will be known as Hogan Lovells starting May 1.

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