The legal consulting firm Altman Weil reports that law firm mergers increased 53 percent across the nation last year, following a sharp drop off in 2009 and 2010. Four Philadelphia area firms acquired law firms outside the city last year. They are Fox Rothschild, which picked up a small intellectual property group in downtown Los Angeles, Saul Ewing, which added lawyers in Boston, Blank Rome, which expanded in Houston, and Archer Greiner of Haddonfield, which merged with the north Jersey firm of Herten Burstein.
There were 60 law firm mergers across the nation last year, Altman Weil said, matching exactly the number of mergers in 2007, when the legal business still was booming. Mergers increased to 70 in 2008, reflecting deals that already were in the pipeline, but dropped off sharply after that.
The renewed interest in mergers and geographic expansion reflects new confidence by firms that the worst of the decline in the legal market place is past, at least for now.
Arlin Adams is one of the city's best known and distinguished lawyers and now after a career that began in 1947 at Schader Harrison, he has decied to retire and devote more of his time to personal interests. To many lawyers in Philadelphia, Adams, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, was the soul of judicial and lawyerly discernment. Certainly, many political leaders thought of him that way. He was close to former Gov. William Scranton and former President Nixon and an advisor to former Reagan confidante and Philadelphia publisher Walter Annenberg. Officially, his last day at the firm was Dec. 30. But firm insiders say it is a safe bet he will still be regularly seen in the corridors of Schnader Harrison.
Corporate legal departments appear ever so slightly to be easing up on the cost cutting that has ruled their world since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Newtown Square based legal consultant Altman Weil says a survey of chief legal officers shows 56 percent modestly increased legal department budgets this year. That’s up from 51 percent of CLOs the year before. The increases in spending were slightly higher as well. Among CLOs who increased spending, the median expenditure grew by seven percent. The number in 2010 was six percent.
Some 46 percent increased outside legal expenditures, compared with 43 percent in the preceding year.
Is the U.S economy on its way to another recession, so soon after the last? Did we ever really get out of the last one?
Add the latest employment and salary survey by Robert Half Legal, the legal recruiting firm, to the list of contradictory economic indicators.
The survey of several hundred “senior lawyers” in firms and in general counsel offices around the country found that the hiring market had picked up. Firms were having increasing difficulty finding experienced associates in busy practice areas like litigation, commercial transactions and health care.
The transformation of Cozen O’Connor from its singular focus on insurance litigation to a broader base of transactional law and other practices continues apace.
Cozen O'Connor law firm announced what it said was a succession plan Wednesday that has Michael Heller, chair of the business law department, taking on additional responsibilities as president and Vince McGuinness becoming managing partner.
Tad Decker, who will give up the title of president but remain chief executive officer, said that the two had been involved in strategic planning at the firm for some time and that the announcement of a succession plan portended no major changes.
Talk of an impending recession aside, can a recovery in commercial real estate be far behind if a Center City law firm that for the past few years has been touting its distressed real estate practice announces that it has established a new “real estate recovery group?”
This is what Ballard Spahr has done, and it is premised on the idea that commercial real estate is poised for an upturn.
They might be in a position to know. Ballard and other law firms have been doing substantial business in recent years helping to broker transactions involving commercial buildings in some degree of financial distress. The firm says this specialty accounts for a significant share of its overall real estate practice. Now , the chair of the Ballard’s real estate department, Michael Sklaroff, says Ballard is trying to position itself for a recovery.
Villanova University Law School now is not alone in having to deal with reputational fallout from the disclosure that grades of incoming freshmen were inflated.
The University of Illinois has confirmed that law school admission test scores and grade point averages for its income class had been inflated on its website. The school said Sept. 19 it was investigating the inaccurate admissions data, but offered no explanation of how it happened.
Villanova University disclosed Feb. 7 that admissions data for its incoming law school classes for an unspecified number of years before 2010 had been falsified. Following a six months of silence on the issue, the law school said that the inflated data had been created by a small number of administrators and admissions staff, who are no longer with the school. At the same time, the law school was censured by the American Bar Association, but it was told that it would not lose its accreditation.
Sen. Herb Kohl, the Wisconsin Democrat who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is calling on the Justice Department to focus more attention on abuse of the elderly. Kohl, in a letter to the department’s Office of Victims of Crime, pointed out what simple arithmetic makes clear. The burgeoning number of senior citizens over time will, by definition, mean that more and more elderly people will suffer from financial and physical abuse.
Kohl wants the office to add elder abuse to the list of priority items that states can cite in seeking funding.
Social scientists have been slower to pick up on the problem of elder abuse than on the harmful treatment of children, which now receives considerable focus from the federal government. Yet a growing number of studies show that abuse of the elderly is widespread. As many as one in 20 report that money has been improperly taken from them in the preceding year. That would translate into 2.5 million people nationally. Those same studies show that the perpetrators typically are trusted advisers – lawyers or financial advisers.