Mergers do not appear to be slowing down among law firms, and for good reasons. A merger can create a renewed energy, add needed depth, broaden the platform, enhance branding, increase firm revenues and profits and provide new services for growing clients.
And as law firm leadership becomes even more savvy in maintaining a clear vision of the bigger picture through the process, while maintaining the focus on the firm’s culture as the guiding light, a merger can definitely illuminate a firm’s path and future.
However, unfortunately some in leadership may have the false perception that a merger could be the fix-all for the many concerns that continue to be a drain on a firm’s morale.
But that’s a different blog. Based on our experiences, it’s rare that every partner will joyfully embrace the new combination and new firm identity. In anticipation of this, there should be a particular awareness on managing expectations and misconceptions after the merger celebrations are over.
This catches many in leadership by surprise, much like the brain freeze you had as a kid. You probably remember it wasn't necessarily something you anticipated. There you are, sitting and relaxing, enjoying your tasty but super cold refreshing frozen drink, then BAM… hello brain freeze!
There will always be a learning curve and some growing pains following a merger or combination, and while we all understand that it’s impossible to always keep every partner happy, the reality is that some partners will feel threatened and actually demonstrate their vote by walking towards the exit door.
Some of the most common concerns we hear are:
The firm has made the decision to move in a different direction away from my practice and my clients.
I wasn’t sure I mattered before the merger, now I’m sure to be even more lost in the shuffle.
The conflicts are making it too difficult to continue growing my practice.
Before the merger, our firm leadership was located in my office, but now leadership is being allocated to a different city or country.
Therefore, we encourage our clients to be aware of the importance of having two separate operating strategies: One business strategy that is laser-focused on the objectives of a merger, and the execution of the game plan; but equally important, another strategy designed to gain the most impact from the combination, while being aware of the concerns lurking in the aftermath of a merger.
Otherwise, your firm could experience a longer than necessary integration, or worse, the loss of key partners, valued clients, or even entire practice groups.
The most important key cornerstone of which we remind our clients is to never lose focus on the firm’s culture. In most cases, the real work begins in the weeks and months after the merger is completed.
If you are interested in learning more about our recommendations for a “post-merger” strategy and would like some guidance on how to best prepare for the post-merger drama and reducing pushback, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential conversation. We'll roll up our sleeves to assist your firm so you can avoid the dreaded brain freeze.