Merger Craze Continues As Ohio Firms Unite
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According to a report issued last month by legal consultancy Atlman Weil, the law firm merger mania that led to 14 tie-ups being announced in the third quarter is showing no sign of slowing in the waning months of the year as a stagnant economy and a desire among regionally focused shops to expand close to home help fuel the trend.

Taft Stenttinius & Hollister, which is one of Ohio’s largest firms, announced on Tuesday that it is acquiring 30-lawyer Columbus shop Chester Willcox & Saxbe. According to the Dayton Business Journal, once the firms officially combine operations–an event expected to occur by January 2–the newly merged entity will have roughly 330 lawyers in four offices in Ohio, as well as outposts in Covington, Kentucky; Indianapolis; and Phoenix. Founded in 1885, Taft Stettinius’s partners have, over time, included two sons of former President William Howard Taft.


Meanwhile, according to sibling production The Recorder, McKenna Long & Aldridge and California form Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps are discussing a possible combination of their own.

The Recorder reports that Luce Forward chairman Kurt Kicklighter confirmed to The Recorder that his firm is in merger talks with McKenna Long, whose roots are in Atlanta and Washington D.C. also that no agreement has been reached and the partnerships of either firm have yet to vote on such accord.

Kicklighter also told The Recorder that his firm is reconsidering its strategy to become a California-wide firm after finding national firms interested in their operations. Luce Forward also held merger talks with Nixon Peabody over the summer, followed by discussions with Cozen O’Connor  (those talks ended last month), reported The Recorder. Kicklighter declined to comment on the merger discussions held with any of the firms other than McKenna Long.

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According to the most recent Am Law 200 financial data, Luce Forward’s gross revenues rose 3.6 percent to $101.5 million in 2010, while the profits per partner soared 33.7 percent to $675,000. However, the real estate downturn in the Golden State has nonetheless hurt the 145-lawyer firm’s bottom line. Kicklighter told The Reporter that Luce Forward’s 2011 revenue is likely to fall short of the 2010 figure.

McKenna Long chairman Jeff Haidet said in a statement to The Reporter that his firm shares ”similar cultures and strategic plans” with Luce Forward and that both of the firms are ”interested in exploring opportunities to bolster our practices and services.”

McKenna Long is the product of a 2002 merger between Atlanta-based Long Aldridge & Norman and D.C. -based McKenna & Cuneo. According to the most recent Am Law 100 financial survey, the 425-lawyers firm’s gross revenues rose 2.4 percent to $276.5 million in 2010, while profits per partner jumped 11.4 percent to $925,000.

Elsewhere, Holme Roberts & Owen managing partner Randall Miller spoke with the Denver Business Journal on Friday about conversations he has been having with the possible suitors.



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