Mergers & Acquisitions
The much heralded consolidation of the legal services sector is at last under way. It is being driven in large part by the liberalisation and deregulation of the market. This in turn has led to the emergence of new entrants and new business models. Add the pressures of the global financial crisis, the shift in the balance of power from supplier (law firm) to consumer (clients), new technologies, increasing regulatory and compliance burdens and the Jackson reforms and it’s no surprise that thousands of law firms have merger on their radars.
And to be clear, ‘merger’ here is used as a generic term which embraces true mergers (where two organisations are similar in size, which is the rarest kind), acquisitions by a larger firm of a smaller firm, disposals of a business to an acquirer, and bolt-ons of teams, departments or practice areas or offices.
It’s not unusual for law firms and their busy management teams to try and work through the merger process themselves. But that process of working out what you are aiming for, identifying and evaluating targets, arranging and holding initial discussions, establishing what funding may be required, what structures will be needed, ascertaining cultural ‘fit’, cracking the ‘deal-breakers’, negotiating terms and completing the deal takes up an enormous amount of management time – and energy. And that’s before the real work starts – on planning the integration and success of the new business!
The lack of independence and objectivity doesn’t help on the big issues such as ‘who gets what’, for example. Sometimes all that is required is an impartial ‘honest-broker’ to facilitate discussions and help resolve issues. Often, the firm aiming to grow by merger or acquisition, or the firm seeking to be acquired, would benefit from the assistance of an experienced consultant to guide them through the entirety of the merger process. Haddon Consult works with you in the way you want, be that on a joint-appointment, to help resolve a single issue, or as lead advisor for one of the parties throughout the process.
Few consultants operating in this sector can rival Nigel’s hands-on experience of law firm mergers. Nigel was the driving force behind the merger which created SAS Daniels in 2006 and subsequently led the firm through three further mergers and the bolt-on of a five lawyer team. Nigel was invited by The Law Society to edit the Law Management Section Merger Toolkit, published in 2012. Many of the sectors’ leading lights contributed to the work, including Alan Hodgart, Andrew Hedley, Andrew Otterburn, Nick Jarrett-Kerr and Colin FitzPatrick.
Nigel now offers a specialist Mergers and Acquisitions service for the legal sector in a joint venture with Chartered Accountants, Howard Hackney and Barry Wilkinson, and Solicitors Mark Briegal and Paul Bennet. The members of Mosaic Legal are all also founder members of the 2019 launched, Association of Law Firm Merger Advisers.