Case Study: 75-lawyer firm sets strategy and merges with an equal

Roxanne Jensen, Founder and Managing Director of EvolveLaw, worked as a consultant for a mid-sized Rocky Mountain regional firm to help set, refine, and execute a comprehensive strategy in the New Normal legal marketplace.  Roxanne’s work was pivotal to the firm’s eventual merger of equals with an out-of-market western firm.

The client firm began its strategic planning from a position of strength, with growing profits and a strong reputation in the Denver region.  The firm had been approached by a number of potential market entrants exploring a merger; and firm management wanted to take a logical, culture-driven, and thorough approach to strategic options.  Knowing the market for legal services had changed significantly, the client wanted to consider a number of possible paths to ensure its vitality. Roxanne worked with the firm’s Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of its Executive Committee and Business Group leaders, to

  • analyze the firm’s market position from an external perspective, assessing the firm’s position as seen by clients, competitors, and colleagues;
  • analyze the firm’s position from an internal perspective, consolidating key stakeholders’ views, business plans and practice goals;
  • assess the firm’s value proposition and potential strategic paths by looking examining the firm’s performance and trajectory in a changing legal marketplace;
  • examine differentiators that appear to be working for similar firms across the country and assess their applicability to the firm;
  • set out a range of strategic alternatives (including the status quo, thinning to niche practices, aggressive Rocky Mountain area acquisitions, upstream mergers, and a merger of equals), along with timelines, costs, and the likelihood of success of each; and
  • develop consensus among key stakeholders on the best strategic goals for the firm.

Once the client firm’s strategic plan was set, Roxanne helped the firm execute on its strategy.  She worked with the firm to

  • consider markets for strategic expansion by assessing complementary and supplementary client and industry markets and trajectories as well as law firm market saturation;
  • vet in detail possible merger partners in two markets that presented different opportunities for growth, and rank potential merger partners using a weighted scale based on the partners’ views of the most important factors and publicly available data on the candidate firms;
  • develop approaches to multiple firms in each market to allow the firm to compare and contrast opportunities;
  • develop a business case for merger; and
  • execute the merger by partnering with the merger committee to craft committee agendas and positions, providing advice and advocacy on a wide variety of issues such as governance, compensation, business planning, the combination business case, and integration issues.

Roxanne Jensen’s work helped the firm expand into new markets by merging for the right reasons, and merging well.  The combined firm has leveraged its broader practice areas, increased practice depth, and broadened geographic reach.

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