mergers acquisitions monopoly board

Are mergers & acquisitions really heating up again? Really?

Fall and winter are the seasons when commentators begin musing about the coming year. And in law, nothing is more attractive than coverage of what practice areas are on the rise, and which are on the decline. Or, in the argot popular in the genre, what’s hot and what’s not.

I came across a very good analysis of exactly that this week, by Bob Denney. His commentary is long, detailed and well supported. One thing I often enjoy is reviewing articles like this to see if they agree with my own armchair assessments.

By that standard, how does the article measure up against your own practice experience?

For instance, Bob rates as “red hot” the areas of energy, health care and sports law. More tepid are areas like real estate, M&A and bankruptcy.

I don’t know if anyone shops around for a new practice based on analyses like these, but they are helpful.

Also insightful is the section in Bob’s article titled “Other Trends and Issues.” There, he explores law school enrollment and even the declining square footage of law partner offices. But one thing that caught my eye was his conclusion that “Most law firms are undercapitalized.” We’ve seen examples of that—and of the occasional sorry outcome of that. But do you think that will be a significant driver of the profession in 2013?

He also says that, in regard to the trend to demand project management, “On the whole, there appears to be far more talk about PM—by both firms and consultants—than action. It may be another case of ‘sound and fury.’”

That comment led me to think about Mark Lassiter’s presentation last week. You may recall that he stressed the dire need for law firms to develop PM skills, which corporate clients increasingly expect to see demonstrated. But Mark also said the skill is often lacking.

Recently, I came across a Bloomberg News video in which an East Coast lawyer gave his own heat assessment about one practice area. Bill Lawlor of Dechert LLP (in Philadelphia) says that M&A is heating up.

Mergers and acquisitions? Hmmm. That one was a surprise. Watch the complete video below.

What practice is getting warmer here in Arizona? And do you agree with Bob Denney or Bill Lawlor on any of these areas? Have you migrated practices in the last few years? Or do you expect to move to another practice in the near future?

At Arizona Attorney, we’d like to tell some stories about areas that lawyers are headed toward. Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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