It’s too soon to say if 2023 will be “the year of the merger” (or “the year firms attempted to merge,” given that some serious Big Law talks have been called off and Allen & Overy’s tie-up with Shearman & Sterling has yet to be finalized). But we can expect to see continued consolidation as Am Law 100 firms seeking a competitive edge—and, in many cases, a stronger geographic footprint—pick up smaller firms striving to scale up. Among the more than two dozen mergers so far this year are Orrick’s with Washington, D.C. firm Buckley and Clyde & Co.’s with Boston boutique Hermes Netburn, while Eversheds Sutherland recently announced a co-operation agreement with King & Wood Mallesons. Numerous smaller firms have likewise expanded their footprint.
If you are a partner in a firm facing a potential merger, it is vital to consider early on how the deal could impact you. What will it mean for your practice, for your team and for your career trajectory, and for you personally? Will you now have more opportunities—and runway for success—or more hurdles? Should you stay or should you go? Before you sign a lock-up agreement, which typically bind partners to firms for up to several years post-completion of the merger—and even longer in some cases—savvy partners should consider these eight questions.
- Will I run into client or practice conflicts?