Law firm mergers gain momentum with Frost Brown Todd’s association in California

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  • Frost Brown Todd and AlvaradoSmith will merge effective January 1
  • The combined firm will have more than 575 lawyers in 17 offices

(Reuters) – Frost Brown Todd is set to partner with California law firm AlvaradoSmith as the Cincinnati-based firm continues to diversify into new regions.

Frost Brown Todd and AlvaradoSmith announced Tuesday that they would merge effective Jan. 1 to create a firm of 575 lawyers. The combination will give Frost Brown Todd 23 additional attorneys and three California offices in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco.

Executives from both companies said the combination would allow them to accept work they might have been forced to refuse in the past. For AlvaradoSmith, 30, the deal allows them to compete nationally and internationally, said managing shareholder Ruben Smith.

Frost Brown Todd also saw a chance to expand with a new West Coast footprint, according to company president Robert Sartin. The California expansion made sense with the company’s focus on middle-market industries such as finance, manufacturing, energy and renewables, and technology, he said.

Frost Brown Todd, founded in 1919 as Frost & Jacobs before merging in 2000 with Brown, Todd and Heyburn, founded in Louisville in 2000, has roots in mid-America, with offices in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and other states. Since 2015, the company has opened outposts in newer locations such as Pittsburgh, Dallas, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The two companies began discussing a merger in September 2021 and have been throwing some questions at each other over the past year, executives said.

AlvaradoSmith attorneys join the larger firm as Frost Brown Todd AlvaradoSmith in California until 2023, before reverting to Frost Brown Todd next year.

A handful of other law firms also recently announced combinations set to take effect Jan. 1, including Venable’s deal with Miami-based law firm Genovese Joblove & Battista and Morrison & Foerster’s plan to absorb California-based intellectual property and technology litigation firm Durie Tangri.

Law firm mergers fell as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, and activity remained at lower levels throughout 2021. Firm consolidations appear to be picking up in 2022, which had seen 37 mergers completed in the first three quarters of the year compared to 33 during this period last year, according to consultancy firm Fairfax Associates.

Many of the deals completed this year involved at least one small business. Fairfax found that 67% of mergers in the third quarter involved firms with between five and 20 lawyers.

However, there have been a few deals between major law firms, including the merger of ArentFox and Schiff Hardin in March. Another big company, Womble Bond Dickinson, is in merger talks with British firm BDB Pitmans.

Read more:

Frost Brown Todd launches in Houston after absorbing boutique and local hires

Miami’s hot legal market lures another big law firm

Law firms Womble Bond Dickinson and BDB Pitmans in talks for transatlantic merger

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Sara Merken

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as legal affairs, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Contact her at [email protected]

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