Law firm merger advisers team up to form association

Poole: One-stop shop of experts

A law firm that helps solicitors buying, selling or merging their practices has teamed up with accountants and consultants in the sector to launch a new association for advisers.

Aaron & Partners – where Shrewsbury-based Paul Bennett is a well-known adviser to other lawyers – is one of the founder members of the Association of Law Firm Merger Advisers (ALFMA).

There are three firms of accountants – Armstrong Watson, Hazlewoods and Howard Hackney – and three law firm consultancies: Ampersand Legal, Haddon Consult and Hedley Consulting.

In a joint statement, they said: “From small firms worried about succession or exit, to larger firms wanting to grow and attract quality staff, develop their client base or open in new locations, merger has never been a more important issue.

“Whilst there are a wide range of consultants and businesses who claim expertise in merger work, until now, it has been very difficult for a firm to know who to trust.”

Andrew Roberts, director of Ampersand and chairman of ALFMA, said solicitors “are excellent at advising their clients, but are not always so good at looking after their own businesses”.

He continued: “We felt there was a real need to establish a quality mark style level of excellence that law firms could rely on when taking on this most important challenge.”

Mr Bennett said: “We know the demographic challenge is of law firms partnerships, which are increasing aging because of the various challenges around recruitment, retention, a willingness to become a partner and difficulties finding the right merger partner.

“Law firms face a growing challenge and ALFMA will allow a combination of skills and experience to be accessed with the advisers pooling resources to help firms in a practical sense.”

Andy Poole, legal sector partner at Armstrong Watson, said the founding members had been involved in around 150 transactions between them.

He said the association provided a national network that allowed clients to have access to “a larger pool” of potential vendors or targets and allowed for a “one-stop shop of experts for all of the strategy, facilitation, valuation, taxation and legal documentation that collectively results in a smooth transaction”.

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