Law firm mergers have had mixed results. By combining forces, firms have been able to accelerate growth, quickly penetrate new markets, and build some of the legal world’s most recognized brands. Transforming that new-found scale into stronger growth or greater profitability, however, has been more difficult than many firms anticipated.

ALM’s analysis of large law firm mergers (defined as those involving Am Law firms) since 2000 reveals that a majority of mergers have resulted in firms that struggle to both grow and manage costs effectively. Interviews with law firm leaders suggest that many firms have tended to view mergers with a positive bias, expecting that the benefits of greater scale will ultimately outweigh the downsides of managing a larger and more complex firm. ALM’s research suggests such a view may be too optimistic. Most law firm mergers do not deliver their promised benefits.