Buchanan Ingersoll in Merger Talks With Fla. Firm

, The Legal Intelligencer

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The firm expanded significantly in 2006 through its intrastate merger with Pittsburgh-based Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling, adding about 250 lawyers, government affairs professionals and staff. That move briefly vaulted the firm into the Am Law 100 before it settled back into the Am Law 200 for the past five years.

Since then, the firm has added a few smaller boutique firms, growing in San Diego in 2007 and adding litigation depth in Pittsburgh more recently.

In 2013, Buchanan Ingersoll was ranked 117th on the Am Law 200 with $265.5 million in gross revenue, $665,000 in profits per equity partner and $650,000 in revenue per lawyer. The firm's 2013 fiscal year ends Jan. 31.

Buchanan Ingersoll has had a presence in South Florida since 1990, maintaining small offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. The firm recently relocated its Aventura office to downtown Fort Lauderdale to be closer to its client base.

Joe Altonji, a law firm consultant for Chicago-based LawVision Group, said he would not be surprised at a merger between the two firms. He expects more mergers to be announced in the coming year, particularly involving Florida firms.

"There is a reality in the current marketplace that if your goal is to grow, there isn't a natural growth in the market right now, so merger activity is going to be hot," he said. "The right firms want to get into Florida, and there's always been this interesting connection between Midwestern firms and Florida."

According to legal consulting firm Altman Weil, 2013 set a record for law firm mergers, with the announcement of 87 combinations last year.

Florida has been a focal point for a number of Pennsylvania-based firms in the last year.

Jack Kessler, managing shareholder of Buchanan Ingersoll's South Florida locations, said last year the move from Aventura to Fort Lauderdale was part of the firm's strategic plan to "ensconce itself in South Florida's growing business market."

Kessler had said that over the years the three counties that comprise the South Florida market have split into three fairly distinct legal markets. The firm is in Miami-Dade County through its Miami office and the Fort Lauderdale location, just 12 miles from Aventura, can better serve the Broward County market, Kessler said. He said the firm feels the new location can handle serving the Broward and Palm Beach County markets, with a potential office opening in Palm Beach down the road. Kessler had said that seems to be the normal progression of firms expanding in South Florida. Fowler White does not have an office in Palm Beach County.

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