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Law firm mergers growing

NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. — There were 13 new law firm combinations announced in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2009 according to Altman Weil MergerLine, up from seven deals reported in the second quarter.

“While the absolute number of deals was up, most were very small acquisitions,” said Altman Weil principal Bill Brennan, who advises law firms on mergers and growth. “This reflects the continuing caution of law firms in response to the recent economic turmoil.”

“Law firms do not want to assume the risks inherent with big mergers right now. Instead they are acquiring small firms or groups of lateral partners with portable business.”

There were 25 law firm mergers and acquisitions reported in the first quarter of 2009 and seven reported in the second quarter. In 2008, there were a total of 70 mergers, including 18 in the first quarter, 26 in the second quarter and 13 each in both the third and fourth quarters.

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