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15 de Febrero de 2010 El Rincón de Hildebrandt

Law Firm Mergers Continued Strong in 2009 but Likely to Slow in 2010

Somerset, N.J., Jan 7, 2009 –According to Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, leading consultants to the legal industry, law firm merger activity continued at an active pace in 2009, with a total of 57 completed mergers and acquisitions involving U.S. law firms, up slightly from 55 in 2008. The level of completed mergers in 2009 is consistent with the number over the past 5 years, with 54 completed mergers in 2007, 59 in 2006 and 52 in 2005. As has been the case in each of the last 5 years, the busiest quarter in 2009 was the first quarter with 33 mergers, [compared with 22 in the first quarter of 2008] followed by 9 in the second quarter, 7 in the third quarter and 8 in the fourth quarter

Hildebrandt


We expect that 2010 will see fewer mergers than 2009, largely because the number of mergers effective January 1 or announced for the first quarter of 2010 is much lower than prior years. Merger activity slowed in the 2nd half of 2009 as firms focused on internal matters and that resulted in very few mergers effective January 1. Lisa Smith, head of Hildebrandt Baker Robbins Law Firm Strategy and Merger practice, said "We expect interest in mergers to remain high in 2010, and activity to increase as the year progresses. Having closed the door on 2009, many firms are looking ahead and focusing again on strategy and expansion."

The largest merger of 2009 (based on the size of the smaller firm) was the merger between K&L Gates and Bell, Boyd & Lloyd in Chicago. The second largest merger of 2009 was Bryan Cave with Atlanta's Powell Goldstein, both completed early in the year. Other major mergers this year were the combinations of Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus with Shugart Thomson & Kilroy to form Polsinelli Shugart; Bingham McCutchen with McKee Nelson; Bradley Arant Rose & White with Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry to form Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Troutman Sanders with Ross, Dixon & Bell; and Frost Brown Todd with Locke Reynolds.

There were four cross-border mergers with U.S. firms in 2009, the largest being the combination of McGuireWoods with London's Grundberg Mocatta Rakison. Other cross-border mergers included Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone with Toronto's Gaertner Tobin; Jones Day and De Ovando y Martinez del Campo (Mexico City); and Mayer Brown and Ayela Semerdjiam & Associates (Paris).

Domestically, the mergers covered a variety of locations, although both coasts dominated. New York City was the leading city, with four inbound mergers in 2009. There were a total of eight mergers in California, including three each in Los Angeles and in San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and another two in southern California. Other strong destinations included Chicago, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas with three inbound mergers each and Tulsa, Phoenix and Nashville with two each.

Internationally, Hildebrandt Baker Robbins tracked a total of 48 completed mergers, 14 of which were cross-border. The UK was the dominant locale, with 16 mergers completed in 2009, followed by Italy and Australia, with five mergers each. There are two large cross-border mergers scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2010. Hogan & Hartson will combine with Lovells in the second quarter to form Hogan Lovells with approximately 2,500 lawyers and Norton Rose Group combined with Deacons Australia effective January 1, 2010, resulting in a firm with more than 1,800 fee earners.

In addition to tracking mergers and acquisitions among law firms, Hildebrandt Baker Robbins also tracks office openings around the globe. Compared to 2008, which saw 244 branch office openings, there was a 30% decrease during 2009, when we tracked only 172 branch office openings. 97 branches were opened in the U.S., and 75 were outside the US. Of these openings, 70% did not involve a combination with another firm. The Middle East, with 21 openings and Asia, with 22 openings, are regions that continue to draw the interest of law firms. Other top locations included London, Madrid and Moscow with three openings each. In the U.S., the top area was California, with a total of 17 office openings. Other active locations were Florida with ten openings; Texas (six openings); Chicago (five openings); and Pennsylvania, also with five openings.

PLEASE NOTE: MERGERWATCH collects data from published reports, press releases and direct reports from law firms. We include all mergers where the acquired firm has five or more lawyers. Upon routine verification of the data, some historical numbers have been updated since previously issued reports, and the number of mergers contained herein may change as additional mergers are announced.

About Thomson Reuters
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About Hildebrandt Baker Robbins
Hildebrandt Baker Robbins is a multidisciplinary consulting firm, helping law firms, legal departments and other professional service organizations plan, implement and measure key strategic, management, operations and technology goals. The firm serves major global law firms and corporations, and its consultants provide practical business and technology solutions from offices in New York; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Chicago; San Francisco; London; Somerset, NJ; Eagan, Minn.; Beijing; Hong Kong and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.hbrconsulting.com or send an email to info@hbrconsulting.com.

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