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A story about lawyers and law firms

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The scene... the coffee shop at the British Museum, London WC1

“Well I have a very good feeling that we can make this work!” exclaimed Rob looking Natasha straight in the eyes.

“I admire your confidence” Natasha replied, with gaze slightly averted towards the striking totem pole they were sitting beside, “but my people will need a lot more detail and a fair bit of persuading I suspect.”

“Of course, of course …. but we can both see the really fantastic opportunity here, can’t we?”

It had been twenty years since they vaguely knew each other at the College of Law in Chester and six years since they found themselves sitting next to each at that painfully dull CPD training event in Birmingham. Natasha thought it was a property law update – Rob hadn’t a clue. Then two months ago their firms were on opposite sides of the Mermaid Hotel and Spa transaction. And now after a succession of cappuccinos and espressos, it seemed that they were planning a merger between Forbes, Frobisher & Styles and LB Law.

Back in the summer, in the seven days since they had set up this meeting, the world seemed to have turned upside down. The UK had voted leave, David Cameron had resigned, Theresa May had become PM and England had lost to Iceland. They were both surprised by one of those events - although not the same one. 

For Natasha setting up LB Law (a lingering thought remained – was LB Law a name people would take seriously?) had been the most important and exciting moment in an interesting professional career. Starting a new firm in Leighton Buzzard, being with admired and trusted colleagues, ditching the baggage of the old firm where three of them had been before and creating what they still genuinely believed was a new and better style of firm …. might all this be being put at risk ?

“At last,” thought Rob “we can stop banging on about our 150 year history and start looking ahead”

They said their goodbyes on the steps leading down from the museum.

“So we’ll speak again in the next few days?” asked Rob hopefully. “Let’s make it Thursday” Natasha replied.

As they walked away Rob thought to himself “She really is impressive – it would be great to work with her”. Natasha reflected “Yes, I think I admire and trust him too.”

Have your say

Is this a good starting point for a potential merger?

ep1 Is this a good starting point for a potential merger?

245947695 [{"id":"1","title":"Yes, the crucial factor is that two of the key people really get on and have a sense of enthusiasm for the venture.","votes":"20","type":"x","order":"1","pct":48.78,"resources":[]},{"id":"2","title":"No, before people get too swayed by emotion a detailed financial and business analysis of the two firms is needed.","votes":"21","type":"x","order":"2","pct":51.22,"resources":[]}] ["#ff5b00","#4ac0f2","#b80028","#eef66c","#60bb22","#b96a9a","#62c2cc"] sbar 200 200 /component/communitypolls/?task=poll.vote MSG_ERROR_NO_SELECTION Please select either existing option or enter your own, however not both. MSG_THANK_YOU_NO_RESULTS COM_COMMUNITYPOLLS_LABEL_ANSWERS Votes ...

What should happen next?

ep1 What should happen next?

2057592554 [{"id":"5","title":"Rob and Natasha should meet again and keep things fairly informal and between themselves for the moment.","votes":"12","type":"x","order":"1","pct":38.71,"resources":[]},{"id":"6","title":"They both convene partners meetings in their firms to share the idea and get views.","votes":"8","type":"x","order":"2","pct":25.81,"resources":[]},{"id":"7","title":"They exchange emails in order to agree a structured process for next steps.","votes":"11","type":"x","order":"3","pct":35.48,"resources":[]}] ["#ff5b00","#4ac0f2","#b80028","#eef66c","#60bb22","#b96a9a","#62c2cc"] sbar 200 200 /component/communitypolls/?task=poll.vote MSG_ERROR_NO_SELECTION Please select either existing option or enter your own, however not both. MSG_THANK_YOU_NO_RESULTS COM_COMMUNITYPOLLS_LABEL_ANSWERS Votes ...

Have you any experience of being involved in a merger of firms, either being taken over or a coming together? How was the communication handled?

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Comments  

0 # Simon McCall 2016-11-03 14:15
Hello - this is the lawstory team here.
We'll post a comment below just to get the ball rolling and then look forward to you adding your comments.
So please get commenting!
0 # Super User 2016-11-04 12:18
Quoting Simon McCall:
Hello - this is the lawstory team here.
We'll post a comment below just to get the ball rolling and then look forward to you adding your comments.
So please get commenting!

test
-1 # Simon McCall 2016-11-03 14:39
Ultimately mergers are about people and not spreadsheets.

Somewhere along the line there has to be some personal chemistry that will make things work.

And your thoughts ???
0 # Kevin Poulter 2016-11-21 16:03
I think you're right, in part. There should be a good 'fit' between the firms, with shared values and ethos. That said, if the money doesn't add up, two firms may be doomed to fail and this isn't in anyone's interests.

Finding the balance between firms is more difficult. Is there always a dominant party, even in a merger that seems evenly matched?
0 # Simon McCall 2016-11-23 15:52
Understand what you say about ethos and shared values - and that's about people and how they think, feel and behave.
+1 # LAS 2016-11-03 14:40
That's all very well but isn't it about making more money?
0 # Simon McCall 2016-11-23 15:54
Reminded about the comment about two financially suspect firms looking to merge .... it's like two drunks outside the pub desperately trying to hold each other up!
0 # Ina Simon 2016-12-30 19:45
Assessing a really strong cultural fit and synergies between the two firms is crucially important to making it a successful merger
0 # Mac Mackay 2017-01-23 15:50
When I merged my firm with another it started from a mutual respect for the Principals (3 of us) involved as professionals; then we took a structured approach to the financial aspects of the deal, roles and responsibilities of the new partnership, and a coherent business plan. That was 23 years ago next month. And it worked.

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