Mergers involving US-based law firms rise in 2024

The second quarter saw nine completed mergers, bringing the total for the year's first half to 29

Mergers involving US-based law firms rise in 2024

The pace of mergers involving US-based law firms has increased in 2024 compared to previous years, according to the merger research team at Fairfax Associates.

In the second quarter of 2024, the team tracked nine completed mergers, bringing the total for the year's first half to 29. This marks a slight rise from 28 mergers in the first half of 2023 and 25 mergers in the previous two years.

This quarter's most notable merger was the creation of A&O Shearman, a multinational firm formed from London-based Allen & Overy, with 2,800 lawyers, and New York-based Shearman & Sterling, with 700 lawyers. The merger, approved by the partners of both firms in October last year, resulted in a 3,500-lawyer firm with 47 offices in 29 countries.

The second quarter also saw two significant midsize mergers. Phoenix-based Fennemore, with 286 lawyers, merged with Denver-based Moye White, with 50 lawyers. Additionally, Philadelphia-based Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers, with 63 lawyers, combined with Dallas-based Willis Law Group, with 35 lawyers, to create Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris & Willis.

Several smaller mergers also took place involving boutique firms. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, with 1,190 lawyers, merged with Seattle-based litigation boutique Harrigan Leyh Farmer & Thomsen, with 12 lawyers. Buffalo-based Lippes Mathias, with 178 lawyers, combined with Syracuse-based healthcare boutique CCB Law.

Furthermore, New York-based Kostelanetz LLP, with 30 lawyers, joined forces with Atlanta-based tax boutique Welty PC, with 10 lawyers. Pennsylvania saw the merger of Harrisburg-based Mette, Evans & Woodside, with 16 lawyers, with SkarlatosZonarich, with nine lawyers. Atlanta-based Freeman Mathis & Gary, with 347 lawyers, merged with Miami-based Klein Park & Lowe, with seven lawyers. Lastly, Ogletree Deakins, with 909 lawyers, combined with Fresno-based labour and employment boutique Raimondo Miller, with five lawyers

In addition to completed mergers, four mergers were announced in the second quarter with effective dates later in the year. Cleveland-based Thompson Hine, with 347 lawyers, will open its first California office by merging with litigation boutique Conkle, Kremer & Engel, with 11 lawyers, on July 1.

Paul Hastings, with 1,056 lawyers, announced a merger with Paris boutique Antonin Lévy & Associés, with 12 lawyers, set for September 1. Harris Beach, with 218 lawyers, of Rochester, New York, and Murtha Cullina, with 77 lawyers, of Hartford, Connecticut, will form Harris Beach Murtha on January 1, 2025.

New York-based firms Goetz Fitzpatrick, with 17 lawyers, and Platzer, Swergold, Goldberg, Katz & Jaslow, with 17 lawyers, plan to merge in the first quarter of 2025. Additionally, Troutman Pepper, with 1,074 lawyers, and Locke Lord, with 556 lawyers, announced in April that they are discussing a possible combination.

Interest and exploration activity remain high despite the complexities and hurdles involved in law firm mergers. Fairfax Associates anticipates that the current levels of activity will lead to an increase in completed mergers during the second half of the year and into 2025.

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