Dentons closes door on Asia as Beijing practice joins Mallesons

Denton Wilde Sapte has closed the final chapter of its exodus from Asia after securing a deal to transfer the bulk of its Beijing practice to Mallesons Stephen Jacques.

Dentons’ Beijing head John Shi and three associates joined Mallesons’ Beijing office as part of the deal, which resulted in the Australian firm moving into the UK firm’s premises.

The move follows Dentons’ announcement in April that it was withdrawing from Asia, axing its Bejing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo offices.

The closures are a result of the firm’s ongoing strategy review, launched about 18 months ago. In this year’s The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report, Dentons has increased average profit per equity partner to £325,000 from £313,000 in the 2002-03 financial year.
One source estimated that the withdrawal from Asia could add an extra £2m to the partners’ profit pool.

Dentons has already made mass redundancies of approximately 70 staff in London and has pulled out of its European network, Denton International.

The Mallesons deal was struck shortly after Dentons finalised the fate of its seven-partner Hong Kong office – the firm’s largest office in the region. Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) hired Dentons’ Hong Kong head of corporate Stephen Wozencroft to become the head of BLG’s local corporate practice.

Real estate specialist Raymond Kwok joined Simmons & Simmons, while litigation partners Martin Downey and David Hall-Jones moved to San Francisco-based Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.

Dentons’ managing partner Virginia Glastonbury confirmed the deal with Mallesons and said that the vast bulk of lawyers affected by the closures in Asia had secured employment elsewhere.