Holland & Knight arrives in Nashville via merger

Holland & Knight arrives in Nashville via merger

2023-01-05T12:50:37-05:00January 5th, 2023|Economy, Healthcare, Legal Services, Nashville, Professional Services|

Writer: Joshua Andino 

2 min read January 2023 — In what is one of the first major mergers of 2023, Nashville-based Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis has agreed to combine with Florida-founded Holland & Knight. The new firm, with almost 2000 lawyers, will operate under the Holland & Knight name. 

“Waller has a stellar reputation and enjoys a roster of prestigious national clients,” said Holland & Knight Managing Partner Steven Sonberg in a press release. “We look forward to joining forces with one of the most established and well-respected brands in healthcare law, along with remarkable capabilities in many other key industries and practices that are well aligned with our strategic initiatives.”

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis operates across Nashville, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Alabama, and Austin, Texas. The combination of the firm with Holland & Knight creates a firm with 35 offices operating nationally and internationally. While H&K has only recently settled its 2022 merger with Thompson & Knight, American Lawyer notes Waller is known for its successful healthcare practice, which is also a major industry in Florida. 

When asked about industry consolidation in a separate interview with Invest: Charlotte:, Womble Bond Dickinson Managing Partner Clark Dickinson explained, “Law firms are seeing a lot of growth, consolidation and aggregation at a level that was uncommon in the industry five to 10 years ago…Firms are competing for talent in markets where they don’t even have offices, because the prevalence of remote work has made it viable  to hire talented attorneys outside of a firm’s geographic footprint and allow them work remotely.” Womble Bond Dickinson also entered the Nashville market in 2022, opening its first office in the city in July with the hiring of partner Masami Izumida Tyson alongside five existing Womble lawyers

Over the course of the pandemic, professional service firms have increasingly sought mergers as a means of expanding their capabilities and services offered, both as a means to increase revenues and their client base.  

“Early in our discussions with Holland & Knight, we saw a compelling opportunity to join a national platform with a deep bench of talent and experience,” said Waller Chair Matt Burnstein. “Our clients are enthused about gaining access to top lawyers in many geographies we do not currently serve, and our attorneys and staff will fit wonderfully within the Holland & Knight culture. This is a tremendously exciting move for our firm.”

According to legal consultancy firm Fairfax Associates, law firm mergers increased over the course of 2022, with a particular focus on mid-sized firms. Forty-six mergers were completed over the course of last year, with Fairfax noting that firms may continue to pursue M&A as a means to power through a potential economic slowdown. 

“We expect merger activity to continue to increase across all segments of the legal market in 2023. Given natural attrition and the limitations of sustaining growth through organic and lateral additions, law firms continue to actively pursue merger as an element of their growth strategy. While economic headwinds may cause some firms to be more cautious about growth, it may cause others to recognize the need to bolster their ranks through a combination,” the report concludes.

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