Law firm mergers up year-to-date

July 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 1, 2024 – Law firm mergers are up year-to-date in 2024 compared to 2023, according to the merger research team at Fairfax Associates.

In the second quarter of 2024, we tracked 9 completed mergers (meaning the effective date of the merger occurred during Q2 of 2024) for a total of 29 completed mergers for the first half of 2024. The year-to-date total shows an upward trend, from 28 in 2023 and 25 each of the previous two years.

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

Q2 also saw two midsize combinations. The first saw the combination of Phoenix-based Fennemore (286) with Denver-based Moye White (50) , and the second was the creation of Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris & Willis from Philadelphia-based Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers (63) and Dallas-based Willis Law Group (35).

The quarter was rounded out by six smaller mergers including a number of combinations involving boutique firms. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (1,190) joined with Seattle-based litigation boutique Harrigan Leyh Farmer & Thomsen (12), and Buffalo-based Lippes Mathias (178) combined with Syracuse-based healthcare boutique CCB Law. New York-based Kostelanetz LLP (30) joined fellow tax boutique Welty PC (10) of Atlanta. Pennsylvania also saw a combination of the Harrisburg-based firms Mette, Evans & Woodside (16) and SkarlatosZonarich (9). Atlanta-based Freeman Mathis & Gary (347) combined with Miami-based Klein Park & Lowe (7). Finally, Ogletree Deakins (909) combined with Fresno-based labor and employment boutique Raimondo Miller (5).

Four mergers were announced in Q2 with later effective dates. Cleveland-based Thompson Hine (347) will open its first California office via a merger with litigation boutique Conkle, Kremer & Engel (11) on July 1. Paul Hastings (1,056) has announced a combination with Paris boutique Antonin Lévy & Associés (12) to occur on September 1. Harris Beach (218) of Rochester, New York, and Murtha Cullina (77) of Hartford, CT have announced an agreement to form Harris Beach Murtha effective January 1, 2025, and the New York-based firms of Goetz Fitzpatrick (17) and Platzer, Swergold, Goldberg, Katz & Jaslow (17) have announced plans to combine in Q1 of 2025. While not an announcement of a merger, Troutman Pepper (1,074) and Locke Lord (556) announced in April that they were in discussions about a possible combination.

As in previous quarters, merger interest and exploration activity remain high. While law firm mergers involve significant complexity and often face hurdles, we anticipate that the current levels of activity will lead to an increase in completed mergers during the second half of the year and into 2025.

Fairfax Associates collects data from published reports, press releases and direct reports from law firms. Mergers are reported where the acquired firm has five or more lawyers and at least one of the firms is US based. Law firm combinations involving all lawyers from both firms are included in reports even if not officially reported as a merger by the firms. Upon routine verification of the data, some historical numbers may have been updated since previously issued reports, and the number of mergers contained herein may change as additional mergers are announced.


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