Two large Philadelphia-based law firms announced mergers on Tuesday, signaling a continuing trend of consolidation in the market for legal services.
Ballard Spahr of Philadelphia and Lindquist & Vennum on Minneapolis will merge Jan. 1, 2018, the firms said.
The combined firm will retain the name Ballard Spahr and have more than 650 lawyers in 15 offices nationwide.
Ballard Spahr staffs more than 500 lawyers in 13 offices in the United States, practicing in litigation, business finance, real estate, intellectual property, and public finance.
Lindquist & Vennum has 170 attorneys practicing corporate finance, transactional and litigation services from offices in Minnesota, Colorado, and South Dakota.
The merger fits “into a larger trend of consolidation in the legal industry, which is accelerating,” Kent Zimmermann, a Chicago-based consultant and principal with the Zeughauser Group, told Big Law Business.
“This year may be a record year in law firm mergers.”
According to Altman Weil Inc., there were 52 law firm combinations announced through mid-year, including 24 in the second quarter, topping the prior mid-year peak of 48 in 2015 and 2016. Eleven more have been announced in this quarter alone, according to Altman Weil’s Merger Line.
Ballard Spahr made news earlier this year after it helped the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team negotiate a labor contract. It also recently helped McCormick & Co. finalize an agreement on a new 20-acre headquarters in Maryland.
The deal will bolster Ballard Spahr’s M&A capabilities, especially in the private equity space, said Ballard Spahr chair Mark Stewart. Both firms share overlapping practices in financial services, litigation, energy, and family wealth management, Stewart said.
Saul Ewing Merges With Arnstein & Lehr
Meanwhile, another Philadelphia law firm, Saul Ewing LLP, announced the completion of its merger with Illinois and Florida law firm Arnstein & Lehr LLP.
Saul Ewing specializes in higher education, insurance, life sciences and energy industries, while Arnstein & Lehr specializes five main practice areas: business, litigation, local government, tax and estate planning and real estate.
The combined firm will have 400-plus attorneys in 15 offices from Boston to Miami and into the Midwest by way of Chicago.
Saul Ewing has represented clients such as Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
There has been an accelerating amount of activity in the Philadelphia market this year, Zimmermann said. Philadelphia is competitive for both talent and clients, he said, resulting in more merger discussions and increased bilateral activity.
“It’s a busy market and there will be more activity there,” said Zimmermann.
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