Law360 (December 14, 2018, 4:43 PM EST) -- The legal sector was rocked by announcements of six massive law firm mergers in 2018, adding to a string of behemoth combinations over the past decade that many believe are leading to the consolidation of the industry into a handful of giants.
Of the 100 total law firm tie-ups announced so far in 2018 involving at least one U.S. law firm, six were truly massive, according to data compiled by consulting firm Altman Weil, in that the smaller of the two firms in the combination exceeded 100 attorneys. This year's tally brings the total number of law firm mergers of that size over the past decade to 52.
A shift within the industry has happened in recent years in which law firms take a serious look at exceptionally large mergers, according to Altman Weil principal Tom Clay. That shift, he said, is likely due to the increasingly global needs of corporate clients — hence a need for a broader geographic presence — and the increasing competition law firms face from a number of new sources like the Big Four accounting firms.
A merger can be a shortcut for a firm to achieve any number of goals, if executed properly, said Jon Lindsey, a longtime legal recruiter and New York founding partner of Major Lindsey & Africa.
"If firms can gain 100 great partners in one transaction, smooth out the conflicts and make sure they don't lose people, then it's a very efficient way to proceed," he said.