Law Firm Mergers at Record High

Law firms are facing a record yearlaw firm mergers of mergers, notwithstanding the canning of the proposed merger between Orrick Herrington and Pillsbury Winthrop, announced today.


Reuters reported that Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie and Pillsbury Chairman James Rishwain said in a joint interview that a conflict of interest between clients in Orrick’s public finance practice and Pillsbury’s tax, environmental and real estate practices killed the merger.
However something Bloombergs called “merger mania” in the law continues.

Things hotted up with Friday’s announcement that Cleveland-based Baker & Hostetler is combining with intellectual-property boutique Woodcock Washburn of Philadelphia. The news brings the number of law firm merger announcements in the fourth quarter to 20, according to data compiled by law firm consultancy Altman Weil.

Bloombergs report that the total so far for 2013 stands at 78. Get ready for those numbers to climb over the next four weeks because firms tend to announce such plans in December.

What’s in the most recent tie-up for 800-lawyer Baker & Hostetler?

The firm’s intellectual property practice will grow by a little more than double, to 140 lawyers, should the partners of each firm vote to approve the deal. A vote is expected in early December, with the deal setto take effect on Jan. 1.

“Woodock Washburn’s nationally known and highly regarded intellectual property practice strengthens our IP position, particularly for clients in the technology sector,” Baker & Hostetler executive partner Steven Kestner said in a statement.

Combining operations will bring the firm into three markets it currently lacks: Philadelphia, Seattle, and Atlanta.

For firms looking to expand geographically, the conventional wisdom holds that the best and fastest way to do that is by merging with a firm in the targeted market.


The year’s merger announcements, which stand at a record high of 78 is the most recorded in the six years Altman Weil has tracked such activity.  So why the growth in merger interest?  It comes from a growing confidence in a sustained recovery, luke-warm as it may be.



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