Seventeen law firm mergers announced in 2nd quarter

There were seventeen law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in the second quarter of 2014, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. There have been a total of 39 law firm combinations announced in the first half of the year matching the pace of the first two quarters of 2013.

The largest deal of the year was announced in May, when global law firm Squire Sanders and prominent public policy firm Patton Boggs confirmed that they would merge as of June 1, 2014. The combined firm, renamed Squire Patton Boggs, has over 1,500 lawyers.

The other sixteen deals announced in the second quarter were either acquisitions of small law firms or combinations of two small firms.

"This pattern of one or two big combinations per quarter along with a large number of small, safe deals has emerged since the recession," said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower, who advises law firms on mergers and acquisitions. "It reflects a market that is acting with greater caution when it comes to growth."

Large law firms continued to scoop up small acquisitions in the second quarter, with a particular focus on the Western United States.

Shook, Hardy, & Bacon moved into the Denver market with the acquisition of 5-lawyer Sander, Ingebretsen, & Wake. Husch Blackwell expanded its office in the same city with the acquisition of six-lawyer firm, Miles & Peters.

California was also a destination for big law firms in the second quarter. Wilson Elser acquired eight-lawyer Hake Law in San Francisco. Robins, Kaplan, Miller, & Ciresi added seven lawyers through its acquisition of Los Angeles bankruptcy boutique, Peitzman Weg.

"East Coast and Midwest law firms continue to see Western markets as opportunities for growth," according to Bower.

Global law firm Dentons made the only cross-border deal of the quarter by acquiring KapdiTwala, a five-lawyer law firm in Cape Town, South Africa.

The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2014 as well as an archive from prior years and a seven-year trend summary are available online at www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.

Published: Thu, Jul 10, 2014