New-look Dentons to be ‘most multi-cultural’ law firm

SNR Denton global chair Joe Andrew has pledged to make post-merger Dentons the “most multi-cultural” firm when Salans, SNR Denton and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC) combine early next year.

Andrew, who will take the same role at the merged Dentons, has hailed the new transatlantic entity as the first law firm ever to launch as a “polycentric” business.

The firm will not have a headquarters (8 November 2012) and will feature senior figures from each of the legacy firms on its management board, with the proportions roughly reflecting revenues at Salans, SNR Denton and FMC.

Speaking exclusively to The Lawyer on Friday (9 November), Andrew said: “Ultimately we’re different to any of the other 10 largest global law firms. We start on day one being polycentric.

“The client is becoming more diverse,” he added, citing research that shows the large proportion of general counsel speaking more than three languages.

He said the firms aimed to be “the most diverse, polycentric, multi-cultural of all of law firms”.

He said clients and major companies and accountancy firms were increasingly becoming polycentric themselves, eschewing the idea of a head office and focus of power in one place.

“Every single professional services firm and all these successful companies have not been defined by nationality. Only law firms position themselves based on geography,” he commented. “The place of origin or physical location of the global leadership isn’t relevant.”

The firm will take the Dentons banner, incorporating the legacy firms’ names alongside it on branding materials until clients say they recognise the Dentons brand sufficiently.

Andrew said: “It’s easy to just put the names together. What’s tough to do is to pick one single name. We did that with the advice of branding consultants – which is the name that’s easiest to spell and easiest to pronounce in multiple different languages.”

The firms first discussed a deal in late 2011, although the talks were initially only between SNR Denton and Salans (14 February 2012). But SNR Denton had long aimed for a Canada presence and had been in contact with FMC all along.

“I walked into the offices of Salans and FMC within eight days of each other. That would have been in the end part of 2011,” Andrew said.

Meanwhile, SNR Denton Emea CEO Matthew Jones, who will become UK, Middle East and Africa CEO at Dentons, confirmed that the firm does not intend to axe partners or other lawyers following the merger but declined to rule out support staff redundancies.

The matter is currently under review, with no date yet confirmed for a conclusion.

Jones told The Lawyer: “We obviously, in a situation like this, continue to review the needs of the business. The purpose of this combination is to increase the number of lawyers we have. There are no current plans to reduce the number of lawyers.

“These matters are in the process of being reviewed. There are certain members of staff at Salans in London that served the global firm and these will continue to be needed. We’re constantly reviewing our overheads.”

The merger is planned to go live in the first quarter of 2011, but a 1 January launch is “highly unlikely”, SNR Denton said. The exact start date depends on speed of integration.