Dentons chair: We’re the largest referral network in the world

Dentons chair Joe Andrew has revealed the firm referred work to 920 other firms last year, amid 12 months of unprecedented growth for what is now the world’s largest legal practice.

Speaking at The Lawyer‘s Global Collaboration Summit in London on Thursday (10 March), Andrew outlined the firm’s strategy for expansion.

He said quantity was a tool for quality, explaining his belief that to serve the needs of clients in today’s market it was necessary to have true specialists who understood not only their practice areas and industry sectors but also the geographical location in which they worked.

Andrew said connections were “at the heart of” Dentons’ strategy. He added that as well as referring work out to large numbers of other firms, the firm also picked up more than 500 inbound referrals last year.

The firm merged with Chinese firm Dacheng, US firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, Luxembourg firm OPF Partners, Australia’s Gadens and Singapore’s Rodyk & Davidson, and with Colombia’s Cárdenas & Cárdenas and Mexico’s López Velarde Heftye y Soria last year.

Those mergers enabled Dentons to produce global revenue of $2.12bn in 2015 and the firm now employs over 13,000 staff. Andrew told the summit that it would soon have a fee-earning capacity of over 10,000 and that in addition to the mergers, the firm had recruited 714 partners and lawyers in 2015.

He said when the firm began its expansion it was aiming to dramatically improve its profitability, quality rankings, brand, and market positioning.

“This is the law firm of the future, now,” Andrew added.

However he said there was no “right or wrong strategy” for a firm, noting that as a profession law has had a remarkably low failure rate compared to other industries.

Follow #lawfirmcollaboration on Twitter for live updates from the summit throughout Thursday 10 March