First quarter sees twenty U.S. law firm combinations

There were 20 law firm combinations announced in the United States in the first quarter of 2016, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. This is in line with the average pace of 22 combinations per quarter that MergerLine has recorded since 2013 when the post-recession U.S. law firm merger market began an upsurge.

Twelve of the deals announced in January, February, and March 2016 were acquisitions of law firms with fewer than 20 lawyers, and another four were acquisitions of firms with 20 to 50 lawyers. The remaining four deals were local mergers of very small law firms.

"We know that many law firms are actively looking for attractive small firms to acquire," says Altman Weil principal Ward Bower. "But those prize firms are getting harder and harder to find. The cream has been skimmed in many key markets."

The two biggest deals of the first quarter were acquisitions of California-based law firms. Other targets of strategic expansion were spread across the map, including Miami, Austin, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Hartford.

In the quarter's largest combination, Squire, Patton, Boggs, a 1,500-lawyer international law firm, acquired 50-lawyer Carroll, Burdick, & McDonough, a San Francisco-based firm with additional offices in Los Angeles, Boblingen Germany, Hong Kong and Beijing.

Southwestern regional law firm, Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber added 39-lawer intellectual property boutique Christie, Parker, & Hale in Glendale and Irvine California, bringing its headcount over 250 lawyers.

New York-based global law firm, DLA Piper made an international deal in the first quarter, adding 30-lawyer Peltonen LMR in Helsinki, Finland.

The complete list of law firm mergers and acquisitions announced to date in 2016, as well as an archive from prior years and a nine-year trend summary are available online at

Published: Mon, Apr 18, 2016