The Lawyer can reveal that Denton Wilde Sapte felt compelled to abandon the Denton International network when key German member Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek turned down a final opportunity to merge earlier this year.
The German firm held a partner vote on a merger, but ultimately decided against it. The vote came after years of resistance to further integration at Heuking, according to one Dentons source.
A senior partner at Heuking said the ideal scenario for his firm was for the Denton International network to remain as it is. However, with merger not a possibility, Dentons wants to extract itself from the group as quickly as possible.
While some members are pushing for the network to continue, others are now reconsidering their options. "It has now become an open issue for us," said a partner in one network firm. "We're re-evaluating our position."
This has raised the possibility that the whole network might now dissolve. This would enable an easy exit for Dentons, but if it continues the firm may be held to a six-month notice period.
As yet the firm has not served formal notice of its intention to withdraw, waiting instead for the decision by other member firms at a meeting on 8 April.
Dentons has also pulled out of preliminary talks with US firm Pillsbury Winthrop. "Just at the moment it wasn't worth the devotion of the time, money and effort," said Virginia Glastonbury, Dentons' chief executive.
The move also shows that the network is no longer working for Dentons. "It has been an obstacle to us striking up decent relationships in Italy and the Netherlands," said one Dentons source.