Firm in focus: Denton Wilde Sapte

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) is increasing its secondments to the Middle East following the firm’s rapid expansion in the region.

As revealed in this edition of The Lawyer (page 7), DWS chairman James Dallas is moving to the Dubai office to head the energy and infrastructure practice group.

The firm currently has four secondees in the Dubai office, which includes one dispute resolution partner, Michael Kerr.

Dubai HR director Teresa Wong says: “We don’t recruit anyone externally for secondment. All secondments are from within the firm and they tend to be from the London office.”

Secondments usually last a year, but can be up to three years, and are perceived internally as critical for career progression. For example, corporate specialist Neil Nicholson was made up to the partnership at the same time as being seconded to the Dubai office two years ago.

Dallas says: “Gaining experience in a smaller office, where you come into contact with clients probably on a much more regular basis, is excellent for lawyers, especially trainees.”

However, DWS is adamant that secondment is not a sure-fire fast-track to partnership promotion.

“It’s not a fast-track career option, but it does help certain individuals to gain more experience,” says Wong. “The work they do in the Gulf can provide experience that they may not be able to gain if they remained in London.”

The most popular Middle East secondment destination for DWS lawyers is Dubai, followed by Muscat. The firm’s recent opening in Qatar is also a popular secondment destination and with the launch of other local offices the management is predicting increased interest in the region.