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More of Joe ‘n’ Elliott show for Dentons after unopposed leadership contest

Globetrotting firm Dentons’ chair Joe Andrew and chief executive Elliott Portnoy have been elected for their third and fourth terms respectively at the helm of the firm after an uncontested election.

Announced today (19 November) the duo ran unopposed and secured the needed backing of more than half of the partnership.

Andrew and Portnoy, who announced they would stand for re-election as early as 2015, implemented the concept of a ‘polycentric’ law firm through a long series of international mergers since the 2010 union of London’s Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) and Chicago’s Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

The firm became the largest in the world by headcount after the tie-up with 4,000-lawyer Chinese giant Dacheng in 2015, when Portnoy’s and Andrew’s terms were reset at the request of the Beijing firm.

Tasked with executing the firm’s global strategy, Portnoy previously served as chair at legacy Sonnenschein and was reappointed to the role after the merger with DWS, a deal which created SNR Denton.

The architect of the firm’s strategy, Andrew previously chaired legacy SNR Denton and was reappointed to the role after Dentons’ $1bn tripartite merger with Salans and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain in 2012, when the firm assumed its current name.

After a quieter 2016 the firm has continued growing its sprawling global network combining with several firms globally over the last two years, including seven firms in Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia in March .

The firm billed over $2bn last year, with its UK and Middle East business growing its top line 22% to £203.1m in 2017/18. Meanwhile, revenue in its continental European business rose 21% to €288m in 2017 .

That Portnoy and Andrew stood unopposed reinforces the irony of global Swiss Verein firm that heavily relies for direction from its two leaders, leaving open the question of who will have enough clout among its almost 3,000 partners, spread across all corners of the world, to successfully take over when the time comes.