November Flurry Propels 2013 to Law Firm Merger Record

, The Am Law Daily

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Mergers

Williams says the Australian market could still see some merger-driven growth, though most of the leading local players have already been snapped up. The once-hot Canadian market has also seen merger volume slow in the aftermath of Norton Rose's acquisition of Canadian firms Ogilvy Renault and Macleod Dixon.

In Asia, Williams notes that Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia are all seeing their share of activity, and that foreign firms are increasingly interested in entering South Korea and Malaysia (the latter's legal market is due to open up in 2014).

Still, the U.S. is where the merger wave is hitting hardest.

Consider the other deals announced in recent weeks: GrayRobinson acquiring a three-lawyer firm in Coral Gables, Fla.; Sunshine State rival Shutts & Bowen snagging a Sarasota office through a tie-up; Maine's Pierce Atwood expanding to 140 lawyers after picking up a Providence firm; and Ohio's Taft Stettinius & Hollister approaching the 400-lawyer mark by merging this week with 63-lawyer Chicago firm Shefsky & Froelich. (The latter is the latest independent Windy City firm to fall prey to an out-of-town suitor, according to Crain's Chicago Business.)

Those combinations pale next to some of the others being discussed. Patton Boggs and Locke Lord have confirmed recently that they are in preliminary discussions, while Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman continue to size up a potential union. The lobbying arm of Dow Lohnes, the bulk of which agreed to merge with Cooley in October, remains on the block.

Of course, as Williams notes, even with mergers reaching an all-time high, for every deal that gets done, plenty don't.

"Lawyers can be quite conservative," he says. "They can always find 10 different ways not to merge."

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