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THE YEAR OF THE MERGER?

It appears that law firm mergers are hip again, and California is where everyone wants to be!  According to a report by Altman Weil MergerLine, more law firms merged in 2011 (year to date) than in 2010 for the same time period by nearly 80 percent; and regional expansion seems to be fueling this fire.

A variety of firms merged throughout the country, three of those mergers were between national firms and California firms.  Philadelphia’s Fox Rothschild absorbed Chan Law Group, Dallas-based law firm McKool Smith acquired Los Angeles-based Hennigan Dorman and Kansas City firm Polsinelli Shugart merged with another Los Angeles firm, Quateman.

So, why does everyone want to be in California?

Delia Swan, principal at Swan Legal Search, says that California has always been a destination for law firms. “Unfortunately, the last few years haven’t been confident years in many firms, and acquisitions and mergers slowed down.  Now, in 2011, things are starting to pick up, and we’re seeing that with the moves of these firms.  California is a place many law firms want to have offices because of its importance as a state.  California has a huge economy, and it’s geographically desirable on the West Coast.”

Overall, Swan says, these types of mergers are a good thing for California’s legal market.  “Just because these smaller firms merged, it isn’t necessarily bad.  These larger firms will most likely be expanding the ‘new’ California offices and hiring more attorneys.  We love to see new legal jobs in the California market.”

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