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Law firm Schjødt on M&A and their recent merger with Hamilton [Webinar highlights]

The Norwegian law firm Schjødt is not only a recognized top tier M&A advisor in Norway, they are also actively engaging in mergers and acquisitions on their own behalf.

In 2019, Schjødt has conducted two mergers:

  • In January, with Michelet & Co, a Norwegian law firm specialized in the oil and gas sector
  • In October, Schjødt announce the merger with the Swedish law firm Hamilton

With the latest merger with Hamilton (the merged companies will as Schjødt), Schjødt has become the first top tier Norwegian- Swedish cross-border law firm.  Admincontrol was the data room provider in this merger, and we followed the announcement with great interest.

Mari Nygård, Head of Virtual Data Rooms at Admincontrol, recently had the chance to sit down with Olav Kolstad, Partner and Chairman in Schjødt, for a talk about Schjødt’s M&A strategy and further growth ambitions.

In their talk – which is available as an on-demand webinar – they got into several interesting topics such as:

  • The rationale behind the mergers
  • Learning points and take-aways from the projects
  • Differences and similarities in culture and other aspects between Norway and Sweden
  • How Schjødt works on merging culture and integrations post-merger
  • How likely he thinks it is that other Scandinavian law firms will follow Shjødt’s example
  • Schjødt’s future growth ambitions

Access the recording here  or read on for a quick summary.

Mari Nygård, Admincontrol, in conversation with Schjødt Partner and Chairman, Olav Kolstad

Growth as the driver

While the rations behind the two mergers where different, they had growth as the common driver, Kolstad says. With the merger with Michelet & co, Schjødt saw an opportunity to further strengthen their expertise in the oil and gas industry, and with the Hamilton merger, geographical expansion to Sweden was a key driver.

Besides Norway, Sweden is the country we deal the most with today, and with the expansion, we aim to become a one-stop-shop for our clients based in both countries, Kolstad explains.

 

How to succeed with integration?

Compared with the rest of Europe, where cross-border law firm mergers are more common, Scandinavian law firms have traditionally been more bound by national borders. The merger of Hamilton and Schjødt represents something new; Will other law firms follow, or will it be a standalone example?

This will probably depend on how successful the merger turns out to be.

One thing is to do the deal; another is to implement it in a successful way

Olav Kolstad Partner & Chairman, Schjødt

From 1. January 2020 Schjødt and Hamilton will operate as one company; Schjødt, with fully integrated (IT) systems and key personnel from Hamilton included in the management team. Corporate culture has also been a key topic. Kolstad tells us that they were very aware of – and actively communicating – the strong Schjødt culture:

“We have been very open about the Schjødt culture and open about that upon a potential merger, it is the Schjødt culture we want to build upon” – Olav Kolstad

Listen to the webinar to hear more about culture and integrations

Schjødt law - Olav Kolstad - Admincontrol data room

The corporate culture at Schjødt was a key topic during the process leading up to the merger, Kolstad says.

What is next?

We also took the opportunity to ask Olav Kolstad about where he pictures Schjødt to be in 3 to 5 years, and what changes he foresees law firms facing in the years to come.

It is almost impossible to talk about the future, without touching upon technology. In law, like most other industries, there are lot of talk and buzzwords about emerging new technologies, industry disruption and digitalization. Kolstad has registered this as well. So far, he does not see that many practical use cases for this related to his role, but he acknowledges that these are topics that the law industry need to cope with, to do what’s best for their clients.

For Schjødt, he tells us, the coming years will be spent on becoming ONE company and to focus on developing the one-firm thought across the border to Sweden, the goal is that:

…When someone hears our name, they will think of us as a Swedish-Norwegian firm.

Access webinar recording