Dinsmore Partner Josh Lorentz, CIO Ed Carroll Discuss Law Firm Merger Best Practices
Dinsmore Finance Committee Chair Josh Lorentz and Chief Information Officer Ed Carroll recently spoke with American Lawyer about the various challenges involved in law firm mergers and strategies for smooth operations once a merger is complete. An excerpt is below.
The pace of large law firm mergers may have slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a slew of mid-sized firms have unveiled pending combinations for 2022. They can draw some technology and operations lessons from a set of recent tie-ups, where Holland & Knight, Dinsmore & Shohl and Thompson Coburn all absorbed smaller firms.
Interviews with leaders at these firms show some degree of disruption is bound to be inevitable when combining the IT systems and related operations of two discrete businesses, particularly since it’s impossible to get a full view of how the mechanisms will fit together until a combination is finalized. But when done right, the lawyers are the ones who are least affected.
“It’s often the staff that’s going to have the toughest time with the transition,” said Dinsmore & Shohl IP department chair and finance committee chair Josh Lorentz, who helped facilitate the firm’s merger with 47-attorney Wooden McLaughlin at the start of 2021. “Lawyers serve the clients the same way, clients interact with lawyers the same way, but the staff that handles the internal systems, that’s where the heartburn comes for having to integrate the two teams.”
One critical challenge is that these professionals are limited in what they can do until a merger is finalized, thanks to ethics rules governing the practice of law.
“Day one is when we get to work,” said Dinsmore chief information officer Ed Carroll. “Everything else is just planning.”
But the contents of the final report card will ultimately be determined by the work done by the professionals.
“We have post-mortems after projects like this,” said Dinsmore’s Carroll. The team will address what went well, what could have gone better, and what could be done faster the next time.
“I will say that it’s incredibly important from an administrative perspective that all administrative departments work well together,” he added. “If you go in agreeing that you’re going to share the success or failure, you have everyone pulling in the same direction.”
Read the full article here.