How To Successfully Handle a Law Firm Merger

I recently attended a Legal Marketing Association (LMA) panel discussion, “Mergers & Integration: Recent, Real World Examples of How Business Development, Marketing & PR Should Handle Law Firm Mergers and Acquisition of Laterals.”  The panelists included: Romona Cyr Whitley – Marketing & Business Development Director at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP; James Wood – Regional Marketing and Business Development Manager at Bryan Cave; and Lisa Sachdev – Manager of Client Relations at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.  They have been on the front lines of some of the largest, most public mergers and acquisitions.

The marketing and communications department is typically one of the first to welcome the new attorneys and staff members in a merger or acquisition, and consequently is responsible for making sure the new group feels welcomed and helping them adjust them to their new firm’s culture.

The panelists provided the following tips for successfully handling a merger or acquisition:

  • Have your media strategy in place as soon as possible.  Review the communication points with anyone who will be speaking to the media.  If the firm is not ready to comment, make sure that everyone knows to direct media calls to the public relations department.
  • Hold an internal Q&A session.
  • Setup a webpage dedicated to providing up-to-date news on the integration.
  • Keep all of the partners in the loop with regular internal communications.  Additionally, keep the other staff members in the loop as much as possible; don’t let them find out what is going on through the media.
  • Setup a social gathering for the two firms – even before the decision is out.  This will give the two firms an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level.
  • Share firm and office traditions with the new partners.
  • Have early conversations with the new partners to better manage expectations, especially when it comes to marketing budgets.
  • Get involved early and be proactive!

What tactics do you think are most successful when handling a law firm merger?


-By Berbay Account Manager Erica Hess

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