SNR Denton trims Paris as strategic review takes off

A team of three partners and six associates is set to leave SNR Denton’s Paris office as the firm pushes forward with its interim strategic review.

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones

The team, or at least some of it, is understood to be in talks with the Paris office of US firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, though a source at the firm said that no deal has been struck as yet. The departures are understood to affect the litigation, project finance and M&A practices.

In July The Lawyer revealed that SNR Denton had sent its US-based bankruptcy chair Fruman Jacobson to Paris to strengthen the office on the back of its poor financial performance and to integrate it with the US side of the business (11 July 2011).

Matthew Jones, chief executive officer of SNR Denton’s EMEA operations, said in a statement: “In line with the ongoing strategic review of our EMEA operations, we’ve been working to improve the performance of our Paris office. As part of this process, we’re looking at our existing capabilities to see how best to refocus them on the needs of our clients.  As we progress the decisions that emerge from this process, some departures will be inevitable and are fully anticipated in our strategic planning.”

Jones was appointed CEO in March and later launched an interim strategy review of the EMEA business of SNR Denton. The firm has now entered the second phase of the review, which is focused on implementing ideas and changes discussed in the first.

The firm recently rejigged its Middle East management structure to become more regionally focused (24 October 2011). It has since been instructed by the Doha bid committee to advise on the city’s quest to become a candidate city for the 2020 Olympic Games.

At the core of the strategy review, however, is a push on profitability. The firm has implemented a merit-based remuneration structure and put in place a bonus structure for senior equity partners.

“We’re trying to achieve a pure performance ethos,” said Jones. “There’s more of a culture of sales and entrepreneurial zeal at the firm now; partners are much more focused on clients and on growth. We want improved profitability to come from a culture change and we’ve been actively consulting about it – leadership is important but it requires buy-in at the retail level.”

Jones stressed that although contraction was part of the interim review, so was growth. He identified disputes, banking, capital markets and regulatory as areas singled out for reinforcement, as well as volume work. Jones added that even after the interim review is completed, the firm’s focus on profitability and performance would not abate.