This question is sometimes asked in this way: Will medium-sized firms disappear?
Bruce “Adam Smith, Esq.” MacEwen posted an important analysis of this issue a while back. I like Bruce’s analysis but I’m not as positive about the megamergers.
What’s my take when I read about the stream of mergers of large law firms?
Excuse my language, but I don’t have an effing clue what’s going on in the case of most of the ones I’ve read about.
Most of them seem like there’s been a failure of imagination and some sense that getting bigger is the best route to take because it’s better to do something than do nothing.
I’d expect to see enormous levels of lawyer attrition, IT integration headaches and puzzlement on the part of clients.
Here’s one example of my take on the subject. I understand “cherry-picking.” I understand going out and getting superstars to staff areas where you plan strategic growth or where clients need additional services. However, why would you pick up an entire firm to fill those needs? You are begging for attrition on both sides of the merger, and likely to lose plenty of people that you’d like to keep.
Integrating two large firms, in terms of people, systems, IT and everything else, is likely to be a long, involved process that will inevitably take most the eyes of most lawyers and staff off the ball for a significant time.
I’m a big fan of Tom Peters and his approach informs my own. Read some of Peters’ comments on recent business mergers and his negative responses to some of them. I simply don’t see the business case in most of the stories I see about large law firm mergers. I’ve never felt that combining two struggling organizations gives you any guarantee that you’ll end up with one combined, successful organization.
So, I don’t even pretend to understand this trend. I’d put my money on leaner, faster, client-focused firms, boutique firms and creative affiliations like consortia and even the so-called “virtual” law firms.
Just my opinion. FWIW.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]