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The number of law firm mergers in 2005 topped that of 2004, with international and large-scale deals representing a big piece of last year’s action. Forty-nine law firm mergers occurred in 2005, according to Hildebrandt International’s Merger Watch, compared with 47 in 2004. And although the number of deals in 2005 did not soar above those in 2004, the size of the firms merging was greater, the law firm consultancy reported. The results for 2005 point to a legal market that continues to be influenced by a bigger-is-better strategy. “Firms that might have been resistant to [merging] are deciding that it makes strategic sense,” said Lisa Smith, a director at Hildebrandt International. She said that the mergers are driven by clients that continue to seek “more sophistication and more depth” in legal services. The biggest merger last year was Piper Rudnick’s combination with London-based DLA and with Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, to create a 3,000-attorney firm. The second-largest merger was between Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman, a deal that formed a 900-lawyer outfit. Other large couplings included:

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