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Integration after a merger


We are about to take over another firm and I have been asked to lead the integration of the two firms. Traditionally law firms do not handle mergers well and I would like us to be the exception! I'm at the planning stage just now and would appreciate if anyone could recommend any resources, books or be willing to share any experience they have of best practice (or the pitfalls!)
Many thanks
Alison Denton
HR Director
Alison Denton

7 Responses

  1. Best of Both Worlds
    Having worked on the Training Integration Project following the merger of Lloyds Bank and TSB Bank, we broke down the operation into its component parts and appointed smaller project teams from both companies to work on the integration issues jointly, to a brief determined at the strategic management level, accepting that each company had its strengths and recognising these upfront.

    Each team was composed of the most appropriate people with the right level of expertise and after getting to know your counterpart from the other company, we soon got down to some very productive work, always with the overarching guidance of the senior management team.

  2. Integration following a merger
    I have been through this. The watchwords are education, communication and consultation.

    Unless there is a terrific post-merger plan in place at the point of principle announcement, then there is a tendency for both organisations to slow down. People wait for management direction; which is itself hampered by this big internal project and by a lack of information on the policies and processes of the new organisation. Consequently, communication is of the wait and see variety. People begin to wait, and not act.

    So throw people into finding out what is going on in the new piece of the organisation. Get them educated quickly, and give them challenging time lines for this task. Then listen to them. You may have an idea of what you want to do, but get people on your side by consulting them. Lastly, keep the communication regular and meaningful.

    You know that most mergers fail to realise their value for people reasons. You will be champion of you make this work for your organisation.

    Good luck

  3. Optimising Business Development Through M&A
    Restructuring sales operations through merger and acquisition reorganisation can be a traumatic and defining event for many companies. It is a significant challenge in a merger, for example, to determine how best to sell the combined company’s products and services, to its combined customers and prospects, and with combined personnel who may be fewer in number, post merger.

    To successfully support the sales organisational change and development, companies need to determine optimal integrated sales and marketing strategies and address critical barriers to implementation success during the integration/succession process, down to very tactical levels, with minimal transition costs, customer disruption and sales organisation distraction.
    Sales operations, as with the whole M&A organisational change landscape, will be required to identify and resolve key issues associated with Processes, Performance Management, Leadership, and Culture. To successfully integrate and transform disparate sales and service organisations, requires attention to some fundamental principles:
    • Develop and manage a work plan and process to rapidly accomplish the integration while ensuring key issues and interdependencies are proactively addressed
    • Integrate customer and prospect universes to identify key synergies and establish a combined view of target segments and offerings
    • Design organisational sales processes, go-to-market channels and the sales organisation (structure, size and roles) to maximise the combined company’s performance
    • Manage personnel assignments to reflect competency requirements and disruption considerations.

    For a perspective on Optimising Business Development in the Legal Sector, visit:

  4. redundancies?
    Alison, will there be redundancies? you’ve called this a merger, but usually, one firm “wins” (due to size, customer base etc). If this is you and you’re hanging on to the word merger because it’s less upsetting for the other firm involved, but there will be people made redundant, the most obvious thing to do is to make the redundancies as soon as possible, the selection process as transparent as possible and have both firms do the interviewing if people are asked to apply for their posts.

    Some kind of rebranding would help to put BOTH firms on a “new” path, worked out by the partners on an agreed (well, as near as you get it in a law firm) basis. Rebranding would also signal to the rest of the staff that this is not just the old firm slotted into a new one.

    And it might be worth checking with your clients to see what they think of the new firm (and probably more interestingly, whether they perceive there to have been any change – I’ve worked with investment banks who, after having made acquisitions, have employees who tell their clients that it’s still “the old firm”, regardless of the new name. I can see that being potentially disastrous to the firm in terms of unified coherent messages). Happy to chat further if you’d like.

    Good luck with it all!

  5. Currently going through it!
    2 years into the “merger” (actually it was a takeover) of 2 smallish but culturally distinct organisations, we have integrated further and faster than we thought possible, in part by identifying from the outset something to aim for which was unique to the new organisation. In our case this was going for IiP accreditation in mid 2004.

    This gave us an immediate need for cross-(new)organisation working parties and we found there is no substitute for meeting and working with “the other side” for breaking down barriers.

    If there are to be redundancies/restructuring etc I would recommend they are implemented as speedily as possible consistent with good employment practice. It’s the uncertainty which demotivates everyone and while short sharp shocks are very unpleasant, the individual and corporate recovery time is shorter than for protracted consultation for the sake of it.

    Please get in touch if I can help further. Our merger involved 2 organisations of professionals with admin support, so I understand your challenges!

  6. Useful Book
    Having been through one of the most successful UK mergers (in fact hostile takeover) ever I would recommend the book “5 Frogs on a Log” M.L. Feldman et al.
    Key points for me were:-
    – Speed of Execution
    – Ruthless Prioritisation
    – Excellent, targeted communication through many channels to employees, suppliers and customers
    – Keep a focus on Customers

    There will be uncertainty and pain and it needs to be dealt with quickly.

  7. Mergers and Acquistions

    What a tough job! Some helpful suggestions I hope?

    I work widely with many knowledge-based businesses in your situation, including lawyers, but the principles seem to be the same for any organisation contemplating a ‘merger’, or more realistically, acquisition?

    Issues to address will certainly include:
    1. Are there truly shared objectives between us?
    2. Are there also shared values and belief systems?
    3. Who is really in charge, nominally and actually?
    4. How do we do things around here? – and whose processes are REALLY better?
    5. What is in it for ME to adapt or change?
    6. Will I ever tell you what I really think?
    7. Do we have a truly credible and consistent process that may lead the new world with integrity?

    You ask about the pitfalls Alison – I hope the above questions may hint at them?

    As for the processes to avoid the above pitfalls, I’d be delighted to share more off-line in confidence. Many of our team are either Occupational Psychologists and Business Strategists, and this is very much the territory which you are now entering. All our work is confidential, but I hope you may think the foundation understanding required is essential for all your senior colleagues?

    Having managed businesses myself in the past that both bought others and were ‘merged’/acquired in turn, I never found a book that will give you what I think you need. But there is a TON of well-researched understanding I only wish personally I had had available at the time!

    I’d be delighted to help if I might, and good luck!

    07710 394790


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