Law Firm Mergers in U.S. Rise 79% in First Three Quarters on Smaller Deals

Mergers among U.S. law firms rose 79 percent through the first three quarters of this year, industry consultant Altman Weil Inc. said.

There were 14 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the third quarter, according to Altman Weil’s MergerLine. The majority of the deals involved acquisitions of firms with 35 or fewer lawyers, continuing the trend toward smaller deals. There were 43 deals announced from January to September, Altman Weil said today in a statement.

“It looks like the law firm merger market is back,” Ward Bower, a consultant at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania-based Altman Weil, said in the statement. “This is the fourth strong quarter in a row we’ve seen and we’re aware of a lot of activity in the pipeline.”

Among the largest third-quarter deals is Boston-based Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP’s acquisition of Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon, a 160-lawyer Chicago firm, according to the statement. Also in the quarter, Indianapolis-based Ice Miller LLP announced plans to merge with Schottenstein Zox & Dunn Co. to create a firm with about 300 lawyers.

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