Pressure on law firms render mergers a necessity.
Consolidation in the legal market has been much written about, though stated intentions here have often failed to translate into actual union. True, the top-100 firms of a decade ago are now the top-80. But the logic of many of these mergers related to international ambitions, not desperation.
It’s been something of a phoney war – but surveying the news of the past fortnight, that phase is set to come to a fairly abrupt end in all parts of the market.
Consider the reasons behind the growth in turnover announced by national firm DWF, up 67% on the previous year. Ten per cent is due to organic growth, the rest to acquisitions. Then there is Slater & Gordon’s £33m purchase of substantial parts of Pannone. Blake Lapthorn is in talks with Morgan Cole and Boyes Turner – and so it goes on.
The Jackson reforms have added significantly to the existing pressures on many firms. And as the Court of Appeal’s strict line on costs in Andrew Mitchell MP’s libel claim against The Sun showed, judicial tolerance for errors arising from a law firm being under-resourced is set close to, if not at, zero.
But making a success of a merger requires more than the stoicism that sustained many firms through lean years. We extend our best wishes, therefore, to the growing number of our readers who are engaged in this process.