Bose McKinney & Evans, a 100-lawyer firm with Indiana roots, announced Tuesday a merger with a three-lawyer firm from its home state. The deal, along with another merger involving midsize New York firm Moritt Hock & Hamroff, were the first of the fourth quarter.
The two tie-ups came the same day that legal consultancy Altman Weil Inc. reported that through the first three quarters of this year, law firm mergers are on pace to shatter a two-year-old record.
According to Altman Weil’s MergerLine, there were 24 combinations in the third quarter, bringing the yearly total to 76 deals. That puts the industry on pace to break the previous high of 91 mergers set in 2015. Eric Seeger, a principal at Altman Weil, said the deal number could exceed 100 in 2017.
Bose McKinney bolted on RobergeLaw, a three-lawyer practice comprised of partners Christopher and Elizabeth Roberge, as well as associate Alexandra Gortchilova, based just north of Indianapolis in Carmel, Indiana. Moritt Hock, which earlier this summer absorbed another three-lawyer firm in New York, sought to expand its construction law practice by acquiring six-lawyer Goldberg & Connolly in Rockville Centre, New York.
Smaller merger deals like these made up the vast majority—about 71 percent—of mergers this year, according to Altman Weil. Tinier tie-ups are often driven by same-state consolidations and practice-driven additions, according to Altman Weil, which noted that the Midwest and Western regions were the most active regions in the third quarter. California registered as the busiest in-bound destination for law firms.
“The important news is that merger activity has been consistently high for five years,” Seeger said in an interview. “And we think it will continue to be as high into the future.”
Seeger said some midsize firms are also driven to consolidate due to the higher costs associated with a modern law firm, such as investing in legal project management or other new technologies.
“The need to invest in project management, knowledge management and other technology and systems is placing a burden on smaller firms,” Seeger said. “And that contributes to their willingness to be acquired.”
The largest U.S.-based mergers involving Am Law 200 firms was Philadelphia-based Saul Ewing’s acquisition of Chicago-based Arnstein & Lehr, followed by the absorption of 136-lawyer Lindquist & Vennum in Minneapolis by Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr. Cozen O’Connor, yet another Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm, announced last week its union with Santa Monica-based real estate boutique Gilchrist & Rutter.
Christopher and Elizabeth Roberge primarily serve closely held businesses in corporate and litigation matters, said a statement Tuesday by Bose McKinney, which has previously picked up groups of lawyers from other smaller Indiana firms.
“Working with our friends at [Bose McKinney], we look forward to expanding all of our client relationships, while providing an even higher level of service and responsiveness,” said a statement by Christopher Roberge.