There’s further coverage of recent firm mergers from law.com here. The focus is on the announced merger betwen New Jersey’s Pitney Hardin and Connecticut’s Day, Berry & Howard.
Reporter Charles Toutant notes that:
The amalgamation reflects both firms’ need to compete in a market that is becoming increasingly regional, in which practices restricted to individual states can no longer thrive.
Partners at both firms noted the need to “expand geographically” or extend “territory.” It almost sounds railroads in the late 1800s.
(What I don’t understand is why stronger firms don’t just lateral in a partner or two with a strong book of business in the practice areas or regions they covet or feel they lack.)
Then this article from the Hartford Courant quotes a Day Berry partner who talks about another reason:
Jim Sicilian, chairman of the executive committee at Day, Berry, said the merger was spurred mostly by clients wanting to reduce the number of law firms they deal with. As a result, firms need to expand on their areas of expertise, he said.
“This was really driven by the needs of our clients,” Sicilian said.
I guess this is a nod to convergence, a theory that arose as a way for some companies to reduce complexity and also (hopefully) cut overall legal fees.
But note the seeming disconnect. Certain law firms appear to think that the goal of client companies is to just reduce the number of law firms they deal with as a goal in itself. My Legal Blog Network colleague Rees Morrison has picked up on this disconnect. (I trust Mr. Morrison cleared the article with Hildebrandt people in this practice).
I noted a few months ago that one-time convergence proponent DuPont has already moved on a bit.
Law firms can merge, change their names, open new offices, create new practices. Clients are polite and don’t want to rain on the parade. At the end of the day, however, all that matters to law firm clients is better services that deliver value.
And a clear measure of value in a global marketplace is lower cost.