The numbers are out. Jobs in the legal sector are down, and law firm mergers are up for the year. According to a new report issued by Altman Weil:
Third quarter deals are down from 26 last quarter, but, year to date, 2008 law firm combinations are outpacing 2007 by 58 to 44.
“The volatile economy may have a short-term negative impact on deal-making, causing some law firms to hunker down,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower. “But cash-strong, well-capitalized firms will use the economic challenges faced by others as an opportunity to grow market share through acquisition.”
“Times like these are great opportunities for amalgamators in any industry,” he added.
[The move to Cooley] also marks the end of the Venture Law Group, an independent law firm that clung to its culture, name and acorn logo even after being acquired by Heller in 2003. At Cooley, said firm CEO Joe Conroy, VLG won’t continue as a distinct brand.
“Our firm culture would not be consistent with a firm within a firm,” he said.
Mark Medearis, who co-founded VLG in 1993, said his team was ready to let go of that identity. “Obviously we have a lot of affection for all those things,” he said, “but we’ve learned a lot about the practice of law, and we’re really excited to be joining Cooley.”