Ohio law firms to merge in the latest legal industry tie-up

(Reuters) – Two midsize Ohio law firms said this week that they would merge in April to form a 200-lawyer firm, marking the latest in a string of large and midsize law firm combinations announced since the start of the year.

Columbus-based Bricker & Eckler and Cincinnati-based Graydon Head & Ritchey said Thursday they would merge to become Bricker Graydon. The new firm will have 12 offices across Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, with a total headcount of 378 employees, including 208 lawyers.

Many US law firms have grappled with stagnant or falling client demand over the past year, but Bricker managing partner Jim Flynn said the merger is not a response to financial pressures. Mike Debbeler, the chair of Graydon’s executive committee, said Graydon was never interested in joining a larger law firm as a “bolt-on acquisition.”

“Our firms have been mirror images of each other for years, just in different markets,” Flynn said. “We realized maybe there’s an opportunity to do more.”

Flynn will serve as managing partner of Bricker Graydon, which will also have an eight-person executive committee.

The Bricker-Graydon merger was announced the same day US law firms Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Buckley said they would be merging in a deal expected to close by the end of the month. That combination will create a 1,150-lawyer firm, adding about 100 lawyers from Washington, DC-founded Buckley to San Francisco-founded Orrick’s ranks.

The combinations are part of a growing roster of law firm mergers in 2023, which includes deals between Holland & Knight and Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, and Maynard Cooper & Gale and Nexsen Pruet.

Law firm merger activity took a sharp tumble in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, mergers have increased year-over-year, with law consultancy firm Fairfax Associates tracking 46 completed mergers in 2022.

Read More:

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Holland & Knight to merge with Nashville law firm in first big 2023 combination

Law firm mergers gained steam in 2022, with more on the way in 2023

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David Thomas

Thomson Reuters

David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.