Global merger and acquisition activity is off to a slower-than-usual start in the second half of 2011, but that does not necessarily mean less work for M&A lawyers.

A new report from Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk & Compliance says the volume of M&A deals fell 10 percent globally in the third quarter.  Most of the drop was among high-value deals, reflecting uncertain and volatile financial markets.

The Thomson Reuters Accelus “M&A Hostility Index” has been rising over the past two quarters, suggesting that deals are becoming both more contentious and more legally complex.

The telecommunications sector had a particularly slow quarter, down 49 percent compared to last year’s volumes.  Deal volumes in manufacturing, real estate and technology have remained  mostly steady year-over-year.

Private equity deals declined in line with the overall market.

Globally, M&A volume activity has slowed in a number of countries, including the U.S., India and Spain, while China, Japan, Canada and Russia saw their deal volume activity increase over the last four quarters.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here