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Bigger is Better…Or Is It?

It was during a recent client meeting when the conversation turned to the topic of merging. The managing partner shared that they were well aware of some strong, and growing, feelings among many of the senior partners in the firm that they needed to find a suitable firm with which to merge. But I could sense that the managing partner wasn’t quite convinced and wasn’t quite ready to jump on the band wagon. I knew from working nearly 25 years in this industry that when it comes to navigating law firms through difficult times, some quickly reach the conclusion that “perhaps we should merge.” Truthfully, it’s not all that difficult to convince yourself that a merger seems to be the most logical remedy. However, when taking a step back to evaluate the dozens upon dozens of mergers we’ve seen or been a part of, one of the firms always emerges a clear winner when the decision is eventually made. So before you jump all in, ask yourself these two basic questions: “Will a merger offer our firm and partnership the needed or necessary ______________ (fill in the blank) so we can accomplish _________________ (fill in the blank).” And secondly, “What are some of the potential costs our firm will have to surrender or give up if we merge?” If an honest assessment is given, maybe you have your clear answer, and the next step is who to consider approaching for a merger. However, the basic reality is that if your firm leadership is hearing rumblings from the influencers within your firm, and their opinion is that a merger is needed, you can bet the farm that they are talking with others, both within and likely outside your firm, regarding their options, and their reasons why. If you are interested in learning how to best manage the free flowing opinions of your partners, or if your board has concluded that considering a merger may be in the firm’s best interest, contact JAG at to arrange for a confidential meeting and determine the right path for you and your firm at this stage.

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