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Polsinelli’s acquisition of LA firm continues merger trend

Polsinelli Shughart’s acquisition of Quateman, a boutique firm in Los Angeles, is one of many law firm combinations this year.

Firm mergers and acquisitions have picked up. The total number in the first half of 2011 is 28 in the U.S., an increase of 47 percent compared with the first half of 2010, according to an Altman Weil analysis.

Altman Weil also reports that most of the deals in the last three months were acquisitions of law firms with 20 or fewer lawyers, which continues a trend of smaller deals since the recession.

The legal consulting firm pointed to a number of firm combinations in which large firms expanded their reach with small regional acquisitions, such as Polsinelli’s absorption of six attorneys at the Quateman firm, a deal announced July 1. Polsinelli Shughart, a 530-attorney firm, is based in Kansas City.

In 2007, 63 percent of mergers involved law firms of 20 or fewer, while so far this year, it is 86 percent, according to Altman Weil.