Law Firm Mergers: Strategy, Rationale, and Impact

The number of recently completed and speculated mergers and acquisitions between leading law firms in London present an opportunity to reintroduce an interesting topic of discussion, one which focuses on the motivations behind these strategic ventures. It is also an opportunity to observe the impact on the lawyers within these firms.

Some of the most recent examples include the likes of Milbank acquiring Dickson Minto’s seven partner London office which will add considerable depth to Milbank’s City outpost, which currently boasts 33 partners. Milbank’s global head of corporate, Norbert Rieger, commented on the firms’ decision, stating that the addition of this ‘team will significantly add to our ability to act for clients around the globe on private equity related transactions’, adding that it is it ‘a logical next step after our expansion in the PE space in the US, Germany, and Asia.’1

Further examples include Mishcon de Reya merging with Taylor Vinters, and in doing so delivering on the firms’ strategies to support the innovation economy and accelerate their growing share of the technology, media, and life-sciences legal and consultancy services market in the UK and in key international innovation hubs globally.2 BDB Pitmans and Womble Bond Dickinson also join the ranks of the firms pursuing the a strategy of development through consolidation, having confirmed they are in talks over a potential merger.3

The speculated merger between Hogan Lovells and Shearman & Sterling is another significant example of firms joining ranks to strengthen their position in the market. The two law firms both acknowledged market rumours they are engaged in early stage talks for a merger that could see them create the fifth largest law firm in the world.4

The intrinsic details and rationale behind mergers is often cloaked in mystery, as these decisions are discussed and debated in confidence amongst a law firms’ partnership.5 However, the general reasons can be broken down into improved competitiveness, expansion of geographic reach, increased efficiency, and diversification of services, as well as attraction and retention of top talent and financial pressures.

It is also interesting to observe some of the impacts on the lawyers during the merger process, and the challenges which it presents, particularly as this will likely be a key consideration during these partnership meetings. The impact of a law firm merger on individual lawyers can vary depending on several factors. These include the size of the firm, the nature of the merger, and the position of the lawyer within the firm. However, some of the common impacts on lawyers include career advancement opportunities, increased workload, uncertainty, culture clash, integration challenges.

Summarily, the impact of a law firm merger on lawyers can be both positive and negative, with opportunities for career advancement and new responsibilities, but also uncertainty, increased workload, and integration challenges. Moreover, the success of a law firm merger will depend on how well the firms manage the integration process, and how well they support their lawyers through the transition.


1 A close-knit group’: Milbank acquires Dickson Minto’s seven-partner London office –

2 Taylor Vinters and Mishcon de Reya LLP Complete Merger –

3 Womble Bond Dickinson and BDB Pitmans table merger –

4 Hogan Lovells and Shearman & Sterling in ‘merger’ rumours that would create world’s fifth largest law firm –

5 Law firm mergers: why do they happen? –