Law Firm Merger Mania

merger law firm mergerThese are challenging times for the nation’s 200k+ law firms. Just look at the pace of mergers. Combination announcements appear almost weekly.

In fact, 2013 was a record year for law firm mergers. And, based on the first nine months of this year, 2014 will end with a similar number of transactions. Although the mega-mergers grab the headlines, a big number of transactions are between smaller firms or smaller firms being scooped up by larger concerns seeking to gain a foothold in new markets.

Last month, The American Lawyer reported on this record merger pace citing deals closed in the hot southwest legal market. Two notables:

  • LeClairRyan’s merger with Houston’s Hays, McConn
  • Fox Rothschild’s combination with David & Goodman in Dallas

In both mergers, Roger Hayse and Andy Jillson of Hayse LLC advised Hays McConn and David & Goodman in their respective transactions and helped shepherd those two firms through to successful deals. Why are Roger and Andy front and center in this robust merger market? For one, they have walked in your shoes. Here are two guys who led and helped build a strong regional firm that included the strategy of merger. So, how should small to medium-sized firms approach a merger strategy? What are the “rules of the road” for achieving a successful merger? What are the best ways to manage the inherent risks?

Let’s hear from Roger and Andy:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Strategy Of Merger: 4 Steps To Success For Law Firm Leaders”

Too many lawyers are wearing this name badge.

* The Supreme Court’s new term kicks off today, and lawyers are pumped — especially since “the Roberts court [may] be to the rights of gays and lesbians what the Warren court was to the rights of African Americans.” [New York Times]

* But come on, the Supreme Court hasn’t even decided to take up a same-sex marriage case for October Term 2014, you say. Not to worry, because “[h]owever slow the term is starting, it could obviously explode.” [USA Today]

* This year’s law firm merger pace is slightly more robust than last year’s record-breaking rate. Lawyers should probably get ready for some real merger mania before the new year comes. [Am Law Daily]

* The legal services sector just lost the largest number of jobs in a one-month period in almost five years. Our condolences to recent law school graduates who are still searching for employment. [WSJ Law Blog]

* On the other side of the spectrum, this recent law school graduate has it made. This former bank robber turned D.C. Circuit clerk just found out he’ll be allowed to take the bar exam. Yay! [National Law Journal]

She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.

* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]

* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]

* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]

* In the wake of Dean Makau Mutua’s decision to step down at Buffalo Law, a “deep rift” among faculty has been brought to light. The school’s future doesn’t seem as “bright” as we were once told. [Buffalo News]

* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]


Size matters, and to be successful today you really have to be in that Am Law 50.

Alan Levin, managing partner of Edwards Wildman, commenting on the importance of being viewed as a “tier 1″ law firm in the overall Biglaw hierarchy. Levin identified possible merger partners by commissioning a study to separate firms into “tier 1″ and “tier 2″ groupings. Locke Lord was considered a “tier 1″ firm, and Levin will become vice chair of Locke Lord Edwards if the merger goes through.

Judge Jill Pryor

* Mathew Martoma, the former Harvard law student who fabricated his transcript when applying for clerkships, gets nine years in prison for insider trading. [DealBook / New York Times]

* If Bingham McCutchen moves forward on merger talks with Morgan Lewis, a bunch of Bingham partners might bail. [American Lawyer]

* Congratulations to Judge Jill Pryor, who will join Judge Bill Pryor on the Eleventh Circuit. [Fulton County Daily Report]

* Can you be fired for medical marijuana in Colorado, where the drug is legal even for recreational purposes? [ABA Journal]

* Dewey have some good news for the embattled ex-leaders of the defunct law firm? [New York Law Journal]

* Home Depot is the latest major retailer to be hit by a data breach. [Washington Post]

We were facing increasing financial pressure. So we undertook a substantial restructuring, and that restructuring put us on a solid economic and financial footing, allowing us to do a combination to meet our strategic needs.

Many if not most of the U.S.-based law firms in the 350 to 600 or 700 lawyer-range are feeling a great deal of financial pressure. We felt it more than many because we had a number of very large cases—totaling, at the end of the day, nearly $80 million of a $330 million budget—settle and wind up through normal course. That dramatic decline in revenue exacerbated the pressure on us, but the financial pressure on all law firms today are very significant.

Ed Newberry, co-managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs, explaining in an interview with David J. Parnell of Forbes, why he led the charge to a Biglaw mega merger with Squire Sanders as managing partner of Patton Boggs.

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

Is Bingham about to fall victim to its own strategy?

Since 1994, the firm has leapt from a regional firm that worked almost exclusively with the Bank of Boston to one of the fifty largest firms in the world. The impetus behind this expansion was a series of about ten mergers over the course of sixteen years. The firm picked up productive but possibly struggling boutiques and mid-size firms, growing from a 200-attorney firm in 1994 to an 850+ attorney firm in 2009.

How did Bingham reach its current state? Let’s look at the history.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Future Of Bingham McCutchen”

Yesterday we wrote about a managing partner’s abrupt departure from her firm — a departure that the remaining members of management noted in a somewhat snarky email.

At the time, we didn’t know where she was headed. Now we know her destination — and we can understand why some of her former colleagues might be bent out of shape over her leaving.

Where did this prominent partner land, and what might happen to the firm she left behind?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update On A Managing Partner’s Mysterious Departure”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.

Alliteration aficionados are bemoaning the tongue-twisting fusion of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs into Squire Patton Boggs. I prefer the feudal-esque Squire Boggs, but then again, I was not on the naming committee. Aside from this rebranding exercise, Squire Patton Boggs makes it clear that mergers (or acquisitions) are easier to execute in principal than reality.

Many of the firms in the Am Law 200 are the result of previous mergers including WilmerHale and DLA Piper. Most of these mergers were consummated before the recession, and since then, the parity between Am Law 200 firms has been dwindling.

The race for supremacy in the legal market has created a system with far less parity than before and consequently, a greater degree of difficulty for mergers. For example, the spread of Profits Per Partner in 2003 is right-skewed — and this will likely always be the case — but overall, there is little variance in spread of PPP in 2003 when compared to the spread in 2014…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Merging In The Post-Recession Market”

* “[T]hree names are unnecessary, and over time I think you’ll see Squire Patton start to take hold.” Sanders got the boot in this law firm merger, and it won’t be long before Boggs follows. [Am Law Daily]

* The “great female brain drain” at Am Law 200 firms isn’t slowing down, and it will only get better if Biglaw firms concentrate less on their failed “fix the women” approaches. [Harvard Business Review]

* Mary Jo White of the SEC promised to dust off an often ignored — but “potentially [] very powerful” — section of securities law to pursue financial violations. Be wary of the “innocent instrumentality” doctrine, defense attorneys. [DealBook / New York Times]

* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law school graduates are still having a very tough time getting jobs as lawyers, and there is no real end in sight. [Sacramento Bee]

* If you’re looking for a way to explain a switch in your undergrad major when applying to law school, show admissions committees how pretty your grades are now. Tada! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

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