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Law Firm Mergers Jump in 2013

A report released this week from Altman Weil said that the legal industry in the United States is on a pace to witness more law firm combinations this year compared to the past two years, according to The Am Law Daily. In the first quarter of the year there have been 21 combinations announced.

“Unless something unforeseen happens, we’ll be ahead this year,” says Ward Bower, a principal at Altman Weil. “Generally speaking, these are larger firms looking to fill a practice niche or establish in a new geographic location.”

The largest deal of the first quarter is the merger of Detroit law firm Clark Hill and Pittsburgh law firm Thorp Reed & Armstrong. Clark Hill has 220 lawyers and Thorp has 80 lawyers. Dickinson Wright, a firm from Detroit, merged with a 60-lawyer firm from Phoenix called Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander.

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None of the firm mergers from the first quarter involved United States firms expanding internationally. Four of the first quarter mergers occurred in Florida.

In 2012, the mergers were ranged in size, with just one firm acquiring another with a total exceeding 16 lawyers. That deal occurred when McKenna Long & Aldridge acquired Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps. A total of 150 lawyers were involved in that merger. It is expected that the numbers will continue to climb for the next quarter as well.

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