Hunger for law firm mergers reached new highs in Q3

by Steve Randall03 Oct 2018

Mergers involving US law firms set two new records in the third quarter of 2018 and small and medium sized firms are increasingly considering their options.

The Altman Weil Mergerline report says that there were 27 M&A deals announced in the three month period, the highest on record for Q3, while the year-to-date total of 79 is a new high for the first nine months of any year.

"Almost every law firm we work with is actively considering its merger options in 2018, and some large firms are becoming serial acquirers," says Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger. "But while large firms are increasingly aggressive about growth, we think an underlying shift in attitude at small and mid-sized firms - driven by both threat and opportunity - is what is pushing the law firm merger market into record-breaking territory."

The largest deal announced in the third quarter of 2018 was the combination of 816-lawyer, Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild and 131-lawyer Smith Moore Leatherwood based in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Of the 27 law firms targeted for acquisition in Q3, 81% (22) were small firms with between 2 and 20 lawyers.

Five stand in Clifford Chance leadership race
Global firm Clifford Chance is gearing up for its senior partner election with five potential leaders on the ballot.

They include some of the firm’s former London and EU leaders; and current and former practice heads according to Legal Business.

The firm has favoured finance partners for the senior partner role but there are suggestions that the firm may prioritise a non-London leader to help bolster its global image.

British judges take traditional walk at start of legal year
The long-held traditional walk of judges to Westminster Abbey took place on Monday.

The ceremony has been held since the Middle Ages when judges prayed for guidance at the start of the legal term. While a short walk was involved this year, most of the 2-mile journey from Temple Bar was by car.

The traditional service was attended by judges from several courts together with lawyers and dignitaries from the UK and overseas.