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Buchanan Ingersoll is on the Hunt for a Merger

May 6, 2016, 2:56 PM

Are you at a small law firm on the East Coast, California or Texas? Do you find yourself feeling down in the dumps about working at a firm that you and your partners consider to be an inadequate size?

Well, listen up. Starting now, Pittsburgh-based Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney may just have a spot for you in its expanding fold.

“I do believe we need to grow,” said the firm’s incoming CEO Joe Dougherty, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Chris Mondics.

Dougherty, who is expected to take the reins on June 1, said that he felt it was imperative for his firm to expand in key markets to retain its competitive advantage.

Which markets?

“I am very interested in the southeast,” said Dougherty, adding that there are also markets on the East Coast, perhaps Atlanta, where the firm could have a presence.

Mondics, of the Inquirer, explained that the strategy illustrates a shift in mindset since the recession.

Dougherty’s focus on growth is a common refrain among law firms with between 100 and 800 lawyers. After the financial market collapse in 2008, when corporate legal departments restricted spending, and law firms laid off lawyers in droves, the future of big law seemed uncertain.

There ensued a debate about what would be the most effective business model for firms. Was it better to be small, with lower costs and more attractive rates, or should firms expand, with national and even global platforms, vacuuming up clients far and wide?

The debate seems to have been resolved on the side of growth, perhaps decisively. Law firm mergers and acquisitions reached a record last year, according to legal consulting firm, Altman Weil of Newtown Square.

The Inquirer noted that the last time Buchanan Ingersoll pulled off a merger was two years ago, when it combined with the 90-lawyer Fowler White Boggs in Florida.

The report noted that Dougherty would be selective, saying he “sees no urgent need to grow” and that “the firm will be picky about the lawyers and firms it takes on.”

Buchanan Ingersoll, according to the firm’s website, has about 500 lawyers and government relations professionals. Its practices are in litigation, intellectual property, employment, government contracts, tax, immigration, trust and estates, among others.

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