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Mergers reach record levels in 2013

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/01/14

International legal mergers reached a record-breaking peak over the course of 2013 as more firms joined up, raising the exciting prospect of a future in which everyone's legal needs are taken care of by a single entity called Skynet (or perhaps something with less evil, Terminator-esque connotations - the NSA? The Soylent Corporation?)

Perhaps we should leave the naming process to the experts, who presumably have been to marketing school and as such are far more qualified than I am to make those kind of decisions.

However, it is clear that big legal organisations are realising the benefits of mergers, particularly in a fragile economic climate.

Legal consultant Jomati revealed that 28 deals were announced last year involving at least one top-100 UK firm, or firms that have entered the top 100 following a merger, reports the Law Gazette.

This follows 26 mergers throughout 2012 and highlights the increasing trend in the legal market to seek stability through joining forces with other organisations.

Jomati principal Tony Williams, a former managing partner at magic circle firm Clifford Chance, suggested 2014 will see even more link-ups as companies reap the benefits of consolidation.

"The personal injury and insurance sectors will see several more years of consolidation. In addition, many of the UK's most ambitious commercial firms will see that they do not have time to grow solely organically when so much is changing around them and will seek to merge with regional, and also City, peers," he explained.

Arguably the most iconic merger of this new trend was the decision of prestigious London firm Norton Rose to join up with magic circle American counterpart Fulbright & Jaworski in a multi-billion pound deal that made the newly-created organisation the biggest legal company in the world.

As legal firms continue to look across borders to expand their practice and exploit the potential of emerging markets, it seems obvious that further link-ups will take place over the coming 12 months.