Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte announced they were to become Denton Wilde Sapte. The 200 partners of the firms voted in favour, but senior Wilde Sapte equity partners James Johnson, Nick Syson and Jonathan Shann decided not to join the party. Denton Hall chairman James Dallas retained his position, as did managing partner Virginia Glastonbury and international head David Moroney. Wilde Sapte senior partner Mark Andrews became deputy chairman, while managing partner Steve Blakeley was named managing partner of strategic initiatives.
At the time, Blakeley said the firm was seeking a transatlantic link, as a New York capability was important to the future of the firm. One year on, and there is no sign that any New York law firm is preparing to link up with Denton Wilde Sapte. Banking star James Johnson joined Clifford Chance at the start of the year, Nick Syson moved to Linklaters' Singapore office in March, and Jonathan Shann joined Freshfields.
Law Society votes for MDPs after 10-year wait
The Law Society gave the go-ahead to multidisciplinary practices (MDPs), bringing it into line with the position in Australia and Canada. However, the overwhelming council vote in favour of "allowing solicitors to provide any legal service through any medium to anyone" is dependent on legislation, which would allow the Law Society to enter an MDP office where a solicitor is suspected of dishonesty; current rules would allow a non-solicitor to bar entry.
One year on, the American Bar Association has voted against allowing MDPs, and the issue is due to be discussed at the Law Society Committee meeting in December.
Edward Lewis prepares to dissolve partnership
Partners at Edward Lewis were preparing to vote on dissolution of the firm. Trouble began at the firm after chairman Tony Collins resigned from the management committee following allegations of sex discrimination, which he denied. The 29 partners were expected to vote to wind up the firm by 1 March 2000, and senior staff were scrabbling for positions elsewhere.
One year on, the partners have dispersed to a variety of firms including Kennedys, which took the insurance litigation practice, Finers Stephens Innocent, wh
ich took private client, family, commercial litigation and property partners Morgan Cole, Edge Ellison and Clyde & Co.