Dentons unveils restructure in wake of Salans and Fraser Milner Casgrain merger

Dentons has unveiled a mass restructure for its UKMEA LLP following its 2013 tripartite merger, bringing its list of practice and sector groups under five new divisional heads.

A list has been circulated to the firm’s partners outlining five new overarching divisions – A, B, C, D and E – which practice and sector groups will feed into. The change will bring several previously independent practice group leaders under new management lines.

Its five new divisions are banking; corporate; energy, infrastructure, projects and real estate; litigation; and the Middle East.

However, only its newly appointed corporate chief, Jeremy Cohen, and Middle East head, litigator Michael Kerr, will hold board seats. Previously, Cohen led the corporate group for legacy SNR Denton and sat on the firm’s board. Kerr is a new addition to the board, having been appointed in 2012, following the 2010 merger between Denton Wilde Sapte and US firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (26 May 2010).

Under the new structure, the corporate division will bring together the UK corporate, TMT, employment, pensions, tax and competition practice groups.

Cohen is one of three corporate board members, along with partners Richard Macklin and Jonathan Polin, who was added to the board following the merger with Salans and Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC) which went live in 2013 (8 November 2012).

The reshuffle means that current corporate practice head Richard Barham, who previously managed tax and competition as independent practice groups, will report to Cohen.

Unlike Barham, current litigation head Liz Tout will remain at the head of the division as well as the practice group. She will take charge of the firm’s UK arbitration, commercial and financial litigation and insolvency litigation practice groups.

Legacy SNR Denton partner Paul Holland will also retain control of the banking group, which now feeds into the banking division. Holland replaced Serge Sergiou as banking head in November 2011 but does not currently have a seat on the merged firm’s board unlike Sergiou.

The firm’s new ‘division E’ was handed to legacy co-head of London energy, infrastructure and project finance group, Matthew Hanslip-Ward.

The rearrangement will see all of the firm’s practice areas brought under the vertically aligned structure which, according to one insider “gives a more direct line to the board”.

It is the latest organisational overhaul kick-started by the firm’s merger with in 2013, which created a Swiss Verein structure with four separate LLPs for Canada, the US, UKMEA and Europe.

Each of the four regions will continue to run on different financial calendars, though the firm is considering a formula to report a global turnover figure.

The firm has a global board and a management committee made up of regional CEOs and regional boards. 

In the first set of consolidated accounts filed with Companies House following the firm’s tripartite merger (8 November 2013) Dentons revealed £3.8m of bank loans up from £828,00 the previous year.

Dentons’ new look

Division A – Middle East

Head: Michael Kerr

Middle East offices and practice groups. Kerr also remains managing partner for the Middle East

Division B – Banking 

Head: Paul Holland

All UK Banking practice groups

Division C – Corporate 

Head: Jeremy Cohen

UK corporate, TMT, employment, pensions, tax and competition practice groups

Division D – Litigation 

Head: Liz Tout

UK arbitration, commercial and financial litigation and the insolvency litigation practice groups

Division E – EIPF and real estate 

Head: Matthew Hanslip-Ward

UK energy, infrastructure, project finance, environmental, construction, real estate and planning practice groups