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The first quarter of 2008 saw 17 law firm mergers and acquisitions, showing that the merger pace has held steady during the past year. The report was issued by Altman Weil MergerLine, an online tracking service hosted by the Newtown Square, Pa.-based management consultancy. “We do not expect the pace to slacken in 2008, even in the face of a looming recession,” said Tom Clay, an Altman Weil principal. The largest merger was between Richmond, Va.’s 750-lawyer McGuireWoods and Charlotte, N.C.’s Helms Mulliss & Wicker, which has 145 lawyers. LeClairRyan and Wright Robinson Osthimer & Tatum, both Richmond-based firms, also combined, forming a 275-lawyer firm. Of the remaining 15 U.S. law firm combinations between January and March, 14 were small regional acquisitions. Six of them were in the South, three in the Midwest, three in the Mid-Atlantic, and one each in New England and the Western United States. There was also one multiregional combination of real estate boutiques in Atlanta and Baltimore. There were 10 additional mergers announced in fall 2007, but becoming effective in the first quarter of 2008. The merger pace has held steady during the past year, with each of the past four quarters seeing 16 or 17 mergers.

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