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US Law Firm Mergers Down, But Still Moving

US Law Firm Mergers Down, But Still Moving 7

Law firm mergers will be well down on what occurred in 2019, but have picked up after the early days of the pandemic, according to Bloomberg Law.

Law firms registered 20 combinations from July through September, up from a near-decade low of seven in the second quarter. However that doesn’t come anywhere near the 115 US ‘combinations’ last year, compared to 44 in 2020.

The COVID crisis saw firms taking some time to adjust to what was occurring after organizing lawyer relocations and restructuring to deal with the pandemic, which then lead to their thoughts on the way ahead to strengthen their practices.

“I think you’ll see additional engagement once firms are past their budgeting for next year, and decide if, and how long, they will stay remote,” said Tom Clay, an Altman Weil principal who tracks mergers. “The pandemic put the brakes on but midsize and larger firms are beginning to reengage in strategies to acquire smaller firms.”

Global firm Dentons chalked up the biggest deal of the third quarter, announcing a combination with 96-lawyer Durham Jones & Pinegar, in Salt Lake City, a merger that is part of Denton’s “golden spike” strategy to create an alliance of law firms around the country.

Three large law firms made more typical acquisitions in adding smaller firms for practice expertise.

K&L Gates picked up three-lawyer firm Richards Patent Law, in Chicago. Bond Schoeneck added The Wolford Law Firm, a three-lawyer litigation boutique in Rochester, N.Y. Miles & Stockbridge acquired Taylor & Ryan, a two-lawyer immigration firm in Pikesville, Md.

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