Professional Practice Mergers
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.
Howard has the experience of having been there, done that, got the t-shirt as far as professional practice mergers are concerned. He’s been involved as an advisor on numerous transactions and has seen mergers and acquisitions from the inside during his time at Grant Thornton ranging from acquisition integration and subsequent management of small local practice through to seeing the real life issues associated with a significant national merger