Law firm mergers drop as partners focus on growth-driven takeovers

Madeline Ratcliffe
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The merger between Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham helped bolster turnover
Mergers between law firms decreased by 11 per cent last year, with the number of deals taking place in the UK dropping to 174 from 196 in 2013.

This is 30 per cent lower below the 247 mergers seen in the industry in 2011.

Finance provider LDF, which sponsored the research, said an increasing number of deals are driven by plans for growth rather than cost-cutting, so the figure represents an encouraging trend as post-recession recovery continues. Fewer firms are being forced to merge “defensively” to pool resources, and are instead looking at deals that provide an opportunity to expand into new markets.

LDF’s Peter Alderson said: “With recovering fees, partners are getting more ambitious, looking to serve bigger clients in a wider range of sectors and geographies. The quickest way of achieving that ambition is to merge with a firm that already understands that market and has an existing pipeline of work.”

He added that the recovery in revenue means more firms are able to focus on strategies for expansion, rather than protecting their existing position.”

This is exemplified by Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, which posted a combined turnover of £172m in July last year, after its merger.

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