Regional Firms Seek Mergers to ‘Stay Relevant’ as Major Legislation Swarms

Compact and regional regulation firms are wanting to mergers to ward off level of competition from much larger rivals, as a new tie-up in Virginia reveals.

Woods Rogers and Vandeventer Black are merging to make a regional company of 130 legal professionals in 5 Virginia workplaces. The mixture is a reaction to a shifting competitive landscape across the state.

“We’ve found much more of the larger firms attempting to attain into other elements of Virginia above the previous pair of years,” Daniel Summerlin, president of Woods Rogers, reported in an interview. “We desired to make certain we’re executing what we wanted to do to make ourselves distinctive and pertinent and be mindful of the competitors that was trying to arrive into the space.”

The merger displays an uptick in desire in combos after the Covid-19 pandemic slowed the pace of tie-ups. Even though tie-ups slowed in the previous quarter, many Am Regulation 50 firms are chatting to every other about merging, as are many Am Legislation 100 and 200 corporations, stated Kent Zimmermann, a advisor for law business administration at The Zeughauser Team.

“Our merger exercise is busier than it’s been in 20 decades by about 4 periods,” Zimmermann explained. “As a massive team of companies have developed thoroughly and acquired more successful, their historic friends really do not want to be still left driving and want to strike the accelerator on expansion.”

The premier firms are chatting to tiny boutiques and other little corporations, and corporations from exterior the U.S. are reaching out to people in just the state, he stated.

‘Better Opportunity’

The two Virginia corporations, each established additional than a century in the past, have been talking about a tie-up for a lot more than two a long time. The mix makes a much larger platform for their legal professionals, claimed Woods Rogers chair Victor Cardwell.

“We are looking to diversify and be a desired destination for young lawyers,” Cardwell mentioned, including that the combined procedure delivers “an prospect that can be different than any of the ‘mega firms’ that are out there.”

Summerlin will turn into president of the new organization, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black, while Cardwell will carry on as chair of the put together firm.

Vandeventer Black executive board member Deborah Casey will grow to be vice-chair, and Woods Rogers main money officer Autumn Visser will provide as the new firm’s CFO.

“Clients truly want to see depth in selected parts,” Summerlin said. “They want to see specialty areas since the guidelines become incredibly specialized.”

Woods Rogers was the neighborhood counsel in a $26 million lawsuit towards the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Proper rally in Charlottesville. Lover J. Benjamin Rottenborn is representing product Amber Heard in a Fairfax County, Va. courtroom in the defamation lawsuit by actor Johnny Depp over her Washington Article op-ed accusing Depp of abuse.

Vandeventer Black received a multimillion-dollar jury verdict final year for Lynchburg, Va.-based mostly contractor, W.C. English Inc.


The mixture amongst the two Virginia companies is steady with what is taking place much more broadly in the marketplace, said Lisa Smith, a legislation agency marketing consultant at Fairfax Associates.

Combos can help backfill or offer a lot more depth in some core areas or specialty tactics, Smith said.

In regional markets, this kind of as the Midwest or Southeast, there are fewer barriers to merging due to the fact firms are much more possible to have customer and cultural commonalities and be an economic in good shape for one particular an additional, she claimed.

Legislation business mergers ended up down in the initial quarter of 2022, in accordance to a Fairfax report. There were 13 mergers, down from 17 in the 1st quarter of 2021, according to the report, which counts completed mixtures fairly than these declared.

The major merger of the quarter was the tie-up among Washington-primarily based Arent Fox and Chicago-primarily based Schiff Hardin. Most ended up little and concerned at least one particular legislation firm with among five and 20 attorneys, the report stated.

Firms seem to mergers to accelerate progress in areas that they’ve chosen to make, no matter if that is practices, towns, sectors or at the intersection of all those, Zimmermann stated.

Most corporations also sense increasingly exposed to poaching, he mentioned. By combining, they really feel they can make themselves additional resilient, Zimmermann stated.