Dentons plans to combine with seven other firms located in Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, stepping up its already brisk global expansion, it announced March 14.
The new additions involve a firm in Kenya, two law firms in Mauritius, two law firms in the Caribbean — one each in the Cayman Islands and Barbados — a law firm in Indonesia and a seventh firm in Malaysia.
Dentons’s recent rapid-fire combinations with firms around the world have brought its headcount above 9,000 lawyers and made it the world’s largest firm.
“We want the ability to connect the client with the right expertise and in the right place — anywhere,” said Joseph J. Andrew, the firm’s global chairman, in a phone interview.
The firm will continue to expand, said Andrew. “New specialties arise all the time, and we want to make it efficient for clients to deal with one law firm for all their needs.”
Dentons and several other firms—such as Baker McKenzie, CMS and DLA Piper—operate in dozens of countries.
Dentons has grown mostly through combinations, tying up last year with firms in Myanmar, the Netherlands, Peru, and Uganda. It also merged with Macclay Murray & Spens in Scotland in 2017. In 2015, it began its breakneck growth by merging with McKenna Long & Aldridge in the United States.
Dentons has merged or made other arrangements with around 40 firms in 73 countries.
“We are growing faster in Latin America and the Caribbean — and with truly high-quality firms — in a way that no one has ever done before,” said Elliot Portnoy, the firm’s global chief executive officer, in the announcement.
Last April, several legal publications reported that the firm’s U.S. region had missed its 2016 budget targets and had pushed out around 20 U.S.-based partners.
According to a report in the Am Law Daily that same month, the cuts were made because profits were down following a revenue collection shortfall, and because of high expenses “shouldered by the U.S. partnership, including millions of dollars in salary and bonuses that went to the firm’s global management and staff.”
When asked whether there would be layoffs as a result of the continued global expansion, Andrew said that the firm had only been 3.3 percent under budget in 2016, and only 12 lawyers had left.
“That’s a small number for firms has large as ours. People will leave. That’s normal,” he said. “We have the highest retention of any of the top 20 largest firms.”
Dentons’s new additions shore up its plans to expanded its regional presence, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, Andrew said.
The partner firms are: Hamilton, Harrison & Mathews in Kenya; Mardemootoo Solicitors and Balgobin Chambers in Mauritius; Dinner Martin in the Cayman Islands and Delany Law, based in Barbados; Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners in Indonesia; and Zain & Co. in Malaysia.
The firms set to be added this year will offer practice areas including banking and finance, corporate, dispute resolution, real estate and tax, and infrastructure.
The seven new firm combinations announced this month are expected to launch later this year, following approval by partners.
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