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‘We want to be the game changer’: Dentons launches free technology platform for referrals

Dentons has established a free-to-use law firm referral network, which uses a technology-focused platform which allows member law firms to ‘easily connect and track referrals.’

Dubbed ‘Nextlaw Global Referral Network’, the venture allows members within the network to search for firms with differing strengths in any city so clients can get the best lawyers for their needs. Dentons said its technology platform providing the service will promote reciprocal repeat referrals.

It aims to avoid ‘the problems of existing referral networks’ by operating a free membership model and by not being territorially exclusive.

Dentons has appointed senior counsel Jeff Modisett as chief executive of the global referral network and is expected to officially launch in mid-2016. While Dentons’ 7,400 lawyers are already using the platform, invitations to firms with which it has an existing relationship will be posted today.

Any firm in the world can apply to be considered for membership where applicants will be vetted by a panel comprising Dentons partners, partners of other member firms, and general counsel. Applicants are then evaluated based on multiple criteria including client feedback, third-party quality rankings, awards and accolades and unique practice and/or sector focus. Last year Dentons referred work to just under 1,000 law firms and received more than 500 inbound referrals.

Currently the biggest global providers of law firm referral networks are Lex Mundi, World Services Group, and Terra Lex – which all charge membership fees.

Dentons chairman Joe Andrews (pictured right) told Legal Business: ‘We are paying for all of this because we want to be the game changer that changes the marketplace. The level of investment will depends on how many sign up – whatever it takes. We will refer work even where Dentons might miss out.’

He added: ‘Rather than invest infrastructure we recognise there are high quality law firms all over the world and despite the fact we’re the largest, we won’t be in all 1,263 cities with 900 sector groups. We’re being honest about it where other firms are exaggerating what they can do for their client. We’re changing the perception of our place in the industry.’

Chief executive Elliott Portnoy (pictured left) said: ‘Joe and I have been intensely focused on our clients all around the world – he, together with our global board, had the opportunity to do something no other law firm has done. This is the ability not to exaggerate your expertise – our competitors have to prove their ability.’

Recent infrastructural change by the firm of late includes an overhaul of legacy Dacheng – which combined with Dentons in early 2016 – by reducing its number of profit pools from 15 to five.

With Dentons striving to integrate what is now the world’s largest law firm by employee headcount, the China arm of the firm, headed by senior partner Jinquan Xiao, carried out a reorganisation to create increased profit-sharing between the firm’s 44 Chinese offices.

Dentons is one of a raft of firms investing in technology to improve services for clients. Earlier this week, LOD launched an online platform to match lawyers with clients called Spoke.