US firms merger rate accelerates

The rate of merger and acquisition activity between US law firms has intensified over the current year, with more tie-ups expected in the coming months.

According to research by Hildebrandt International, during the first six months of 2004, there were 30 completed mergers between US law firms, with nine alliances cemented in the second quarter of this year.

With a further seven link-ups expected for second half, M&A activity is expected to outstrip the previous year’s tally of 35 compared to 37 tie-ups for 2004.

However, with the exception of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering’s tie-up with Hale and Dorr, where each firm has around 500 lawyers a-piece, the average size of the smaller firm involved in a merger housed 19 lawyers compared to 35 in the first half of 2003.

There are, however, larger firms involved in upcoming mergers for the second half of this year, including Perkins Coie and Brown & Bain.