Law firms in the UK and across the pond in the US are continuing a trend for mergers and consolidations according to a report by the Hildebrandt Institute.
The report tracked several mergers involving US firms in the second quarter of 2012, bringing the total for the year so far to 25. This figure is three higher than for the same period last year, and almost double the 14 mergers which took place in the first half of 2010.
The Hildebrandt Institute offers research data in the legal services market both in the US and UK and elsewhere around the world. The figure outside the US stood at 20 mergers in the second quarter of 2012, compared to 15 in 2011 and nine in 2010.
The MergerWatch report also noted continuing increases in mergers in the UK, and cited examples of companies in England and Scotland joining forces. These include Pinsent Masons' recent merger with Scottish firm McGrigors and Anderson Fyfe's deal with TLT solicitors in Bristol which completed on 1 July. Several other UK firms have mergers in the pipeline for the second half of 2012.
In June Scottish firm Archibald Campbell & Harley announced a tie-up with UK business Shoosmiths in a business which will be known as ACH Shoosmiths north of the border.
As well as helping reduce costs, the mergers are thought to be part of a wider trend for ensuring better geographical coverage for regional businesses.
Andrew Tubbs is the chairman of Shoosmiths.
"Clients have been telling us for some time that they wished we had a presence north of the border, and this is us responding to their wishes," he said in a statement.
"In Archibald Campbell & Harley we've a perfect fit, in both business and cultural terms," he added.
UK firms are also looking abroad for merger tie-ups. At the end of June Herbert Smith, one of London's oldest firms, announced that it will merge with Australia's Freehills practice in a deal which will make the new company one of the world's largest by number of lawyers.
Herbert Smith managing partner David Willis believes that international mergers are the future of the legal industry.
In a statement about the merger, he said: "We share with Freehills a strong belief that over the next few years that the market for premium legal services will become increasingly dominated by a small number of truly global firms."
Herbert Smith merger with Aussie law firm (Evening Standard)