This article from law.com cites a report from Fairfax Associates that in Q3 of 2022 12 law firm mergers took place, many of them involving smaller firms, bringing the number of completed mergers to 37 for the year.
"Going forward, merger activity is expected to be robust heading into 2023 amid rising fears of a recession as well as some law firms reigniting talks that were paused during the pandemic... As law firms continue to face economic headwinds and a drop in deal activity, clients are continuing to emphasize the need for practice bench strength, depth and specialization," the article states.
Some smaller firms that have done well through the pandemic are considering merger talks as a recession may be looming. It may seem counter-intuitive to predict mergers will continue if the economy doesn't, but many smaller firms don't have the buffer to weather a downturn. And even if they do, some partners and associates will see a larger firm as a more stable place in an uncertain future.
In our work with boutique firms across the country, one recurring problem even when firms are thriving is recruiting new talent. Younger partners and associates are drawn to stability, potential for growth, and a dynamic and thriving culture. All of these attributes can certainly exist in smaller firms (and, conversely, be lacking in larger firms), but we find that most people perceive these more readily in a larger firm with more diversity in practice groups and geography. When recruiting, it's just an easier sell. Which gives regional or national full-service firms a big advantage over smaller, specialized firms in recruiting and retaining talent.
If you would like to talk about recruiting, opening a new market, or exploring a merger possibility, our partners would love to talk. Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] for a free consultation.