Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – CSR Programme of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – CSR Programme of the Year

After reviewing dozens of highly impressive entries, we are now delighted to reveal the winner of CSR Programme of the Year at the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

In recognition of either a single law firm, in-house team or chambers, or even a wider association, this award is given to those in the industry that have made the strongest overall contribution to corporate social responsibility. Reference can be made to a range of areas, including pro bono and community activities, environmental and workplace initiatives and responsible client selection.

 


 

 


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Winner – Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown wins plaudits for working with Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, the anti-poverty charity, to deliver its Tribunal Project to combat the injustices in the disability welfare system. To date, the firm has taken 16 cases to tribunal; successfully accessing close to £200,000 in financial benefits for Z2K clients.

A narrowing in 2013 of access to legal aid, including in welfare benefits, together with changes to the welfare system in 2012, disproportionately affected the disabled and long-term sick. Inadequate access to legal advice for the vulnerable have been a growing concern for Z2K, which offers support and advice to those entitled to means-tested benefits affected by unfairness in social security or housing.

Hundreds of thousands of people with severe medical conditions and disabilities have had their benefits unjustly stopped by the Department for Work and Pensions since the reform and around 40% of claimants for Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have been wrongly rejected, resulting in many being forced into poverty.

Since October 2018, a team of 30 Mayer Brown lawyers led by London head of CSR, Heidi Newbigging, have worked with Z2K to deliver its Tribunal Project on a pro bono basis. Lawyers receive training from Z2K on how to run a case at tribunal, with the project open to participants at all levels, from partner to legal apprentice. Lawyers meet with clients, prepare their submission and attend the tribunal hearing with them, providing much-needed support through a lengthy and complex process.

For example, Yousef (not his real name), a 49-year-old man living alone and receiving psychological treatment following his torture in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has several medical conditions and takes medication that causes side effects. His case was referred to Z2K as he had been awarded no points during his assessment for daily living and mobility for PIP. With support from Mayer Brown, he won his appeal.

Yousef was awarded PIP daily living at the standard rate of £58.70 per week and received a backdated payment of just over £4,000.  In a testimonial, Yousef said: ‘Tribunals are so overwhelming it is great to have support of people who know what the system needs so you do not feel alone.’

Highly Commended – Dentons

The world’s largest firm by headcount contributes 15,900 CSR hours over multiple programmes. One highlight is its collaboration with NatWest for The National Centre for Domestic Violence, using a unique structure that allows clients to become Dentons consultants for the purposes of pro bono work.

Dentons has worked with client NatWest Legal over the last two years to provide pro bono support to the NCDV, a nationwide not-for-profit organisation which provides free advice to victims of domestic violence ineligible for legal aid. The unique structure helps victims without having to refer them to other organisations, expediting the legal service.

The programme has to date supported 94 applicants in need of urgent assistance by obtaining emergency protection from the court. One senior associate obtained a non-molestation order having attended court with his 16-year-old client. The court granted the order without the need for a return hearing, which is extremely rare, and a great result for a young, vulnerable person.

Other nominations

DAC Beachcroft

Achievements in the past year include a 50% increase in employee engagement in CSR initiatives that include the creation of the Helpforce volunteering programme in support of a major client and its first collaborative CSR programme launched with another key client, Aviva.

Latham & Watkins

An impressive showing with 93% of partners, counsel, and associates globally worked on pro bono matters in 2018. In the past year, Latham lawyers in London opened more than 95 new matters and donated 14,000 hours advocating for disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable people.

Paul Hastings

As sole legal counsel to Clearly Social Angels – the UK’s leading network of high-net-worth individuals and families dedicated to impact investment into businesses that create positive social and environmental change – the firm provides legal training to the individual angel investors, answering questions from CSA regarding structuring the investments, as well as ad hoc legal support.

Reed Smith

Achievements include collaborative work with Kids in Need of Defense UK, assisting vulnerable clients, children and their families by regularising their immigration status in the UK. The firm can point to a 100% success rate and over 4,000 pro bono hours committed in two years.

 

 

 

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Commercial Litigation Team of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Commercial Litigation Team of the Year

After much back-and-forth between the judges in a keenly contested category, we are now delighted to reveal the winner of Commercial Litigation Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

This category identifies one outstanding piece of commercial litigation work undertaken by the winning team. The key requirement is not necessarily a substantial award of damages but rather an impressive result for the client, which could include an important out-of-court settlement or avoiding a costly appeals process.

 


 

 


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Maltin PR

Winner – Dentons

The next time you are withdrawing cash from an ATM, you may have global giant Dentons to thank. In 2018, the firm’s real estate litigation division secured victory for supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and the Co-Operative Group in their Court of Appeal dispute against the Valuation Office Agency, in a case which could have seen thousands of stores lose ATMs.

At stake was the retailers’ ATM sites being treated as separate units for the purpose of business rates. However, with Dentons’ UK head of real estate litigation Bryan Johnston spearheading the claim, the Court of Appeal rejected a decision made by the lower tribunal; that retailers only controlled ATM sites facing into the store, not those facing outwards. The appeal also successfully argued that the spaces occupied by ATMs lack sufficient definition and permanence to be considered a property unit for rating purposes.

Such was the robustness of the firm’s representation of Sainsbury’s and the manner of the resulting victory, The Co-Operative Group instructed Dentons on the same appeal. Had the case gone the other way, liability for retailers would have meant a severe financial impact during a torrid time for the UK high street. Moreover, photo booths, vending machines, and children’s rides could have been next in the firing line. Dentons’ success now means its clients are owed rebates worth billions.

The case now sets a vital precedent, having been showcased at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ annual rating conference due to its importance in determining the meaning of a piece of property in a ratings context.

Throughout the matter, Dentons took the lead in liaising with other claimants in order to agree test-case parameters to avoid litigating many thousands of different valuation appeals. Further consistency was achieved by ensuring junior barristers were the same between clients, while different QCs were retained. Dentons also helped manage their clients’ spend by avoiding duplication of representation and allowing one client to benefit from the experience and knowledge gained from working with the other. By being in the trenches for both of them, each client saved hefty sums.

Highly Commended – Allen & Overy

A close contender was Allen & Overy (A&O), which advised Lloyds Banking Group on a landmark pensions case concerning GMP equalisation.

The matter concerned whether pension schemes have to equalise benefits for the effects of unequal guaranteed minimum pensions. All in, the industry-wide implications are estimated to be worth up to £20bn and affect millions of members in thousands of schemes.

A&O fielded partners Neil Bowden and Jane Higgins on the matter, which also saw the firm develop a matrix system to ensure seamless co-ordination with other stakeholders in the case. As a result of A&O’s advice, the industry now has clarity over a perennial issue in the pensions sector: scheme benefits in excess of GMP must be adjusted so that the total benefits received from male and female members with equivalent age, service, and earnings are equal.

Other nominations

Baker Botts

Securing a Court of Appeal victory for Marathon Oil in a high-profile dispute concerning an operating agreement for a large oil field in the North Sea.

Boies Schiller Flexner

Represented Apple on the UK aspects of its industry-defining global dispute with Qualcomm over chipsets and IP licences central to Apple products, which reached global settlement while UK proceedings were underway.

Cooley

Achieving a favourable settlement for client Allergy Therapeutics in its High Court dispute with Inflamax Research concerning a clinical study in the US for an allergy vaccine produced by the firm’s client.

RPC

Achieving an appeal victory for executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder in the Supreme Court in what was the first employment competition case to reach the UK’s highest court in 100 years.

Watson Farley & Williams

Advising Bester Generacion UK in a groundbreaking Technology and Construction Court decision where a fraud defence was successfully deployed for the first time to defeat an application for summary judgment of an adjudication award.

Legal Business

International roundup: Dentons enters Ireland and Cooley steps into Singapore as Winston leaves the Middle East

International roundup: Dentons enters Ireland and Cooley steps into Singapore as Winston leaves the Middle East

Dentons is to enter one of the few European jurisdictions missing from its sprawling international network by launching an outpost in Dublin.

Law firms’ strategies in the Middle East and Asia continue to diverge, meanwhile, with Winston & Strawn concluding its five-year spell in Dubai as Cooley confirmed its third office launch in less than a year by opening in Singapore.

Dentons announced today (8 January) it was launching in the Irish legal market through a couple of lateral hires, a different approach to the firm’s usual international expansion via merger.

Former Ashurst and William Fry corporate partner Eavan Saunders will become Dentons’ Dublin managing partner while Matheson’s finance and capital markets partner Peter O’Brien will become the chair of the new office, which will open in the second quarter of 2020 under the verein firm’s UK LLP.

‘A lot of the larger [Irish] firms have a very international referral-based business model which means they are going to be slightly less focused on the approach we want to take, which is about being able to service our existing and multinational clients and take our platform to the Irish market,’ UK and Middle East chief executive Jeremy Cohen told Legal Business. ‘We felt that building the team ourselves was the best way forward.’

He added the firm had been looking at the Irish market for two-three years: ‘It’s a vibrant market, particularly in the areas we play in strongly: financial services, funds, aviation finance, but also more and more in tech and real estate.’

Saunders said she expected to have a 50-lawyer, full-service team in her office ‘in the not too distant future’: ‘This is not a niche sector play: the ambition is to build a leading international firm. What was very attractive about the Dentons platform is that it’s not a Brexit play. The ambition is greater.’

A number of firms have launched in Ireland in the nearly four years since Britain voted to quit the European Union in June 2016, including Shepherd and Wedderburn, Clyde & Co, Fieldfisher, DLA Piper, Lewis Silkin, Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons.

Moving East, Squire Patton Boggs will pick up the bulk of Winston’s former ten-lawyer Dubai team, including its Middle East managing partner Campbell Steedman, just over three years after the M&A veteran joined the firm from White & Case.

Winston’s corporate partner Christopher Skipper and Middle East finance head Shibeer Ahmed will follow Steedman to Squires next week alongside at least four of the firm’s Dubai associates, after the Global 100 top 50 Chicago-bred firm announced it is shutting its only regional branch.

The new additions bring Squires Middle East headcount to around 50 lawyers across four offices, bucking a trend that has seen several Western firms retrench or leave the region altogether over the last few years.

‘We are not a fair-weather player in this market. We have been here and will be here a long time,’ Squires’ United Arab Emirates managing partner Tom Wilson told Legal Business. ‘There have been a number of firms that have opened in the Middle East just before or just after the financial crisis, either capitalising on the economic boom in the region or trying to insulate from difficulties in other markets and some of them are retrenching or refocusing – that’s not us.’

He added: ‘Our presence in the region dates back 40 years through historic relationships and representations of governments and government entities in the Gulf. [Legacy] Patton Boggs was established in the early 60s with the goal of acting for newly minted countries in their relationships with other government and global organisations. Our presence in the Middle East is rooted in more than just the latest economic boom, it’s rooted in deep, long-lasting relationships that carry on.’

The move brings to an end Winston’s quick rise and fall in the region. It launched in the Middle East in March 2015 with the appointment of Stephen Jurgenson from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as part of a 15-lawyer hire from the firm. The following year it added Steedman from White & Case, who had previously been legacy Norton Rose’s senior Middle East partner until 2011.

But several major law firms have been retrenching in the Middle East after overinvesting during the oil boom in the 2000s, with Abu Dhabi a primary target. Between 2015 and 2017, firms including Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons, Latham & Watkins, Vinson & Elkins and Herbert Smith Freehills closed their doors to focus on Dubai, just 100km away. Weil Gotshal & Manges left the region altogether in February 2017.

Winston chair Tom Fitzgerald said the firm’s clients were located ‘throughout the Middle East and have cross-border legal needs that reach beyond Dubai – particularly into London’ and that the move equated to a ‘centralisation of resources’ allowing the firm to service clients more effectively.

Finally and further to the East, Cooley has confirmed plans to launch its sixteenth global office in Singapore, moving two of its partners to the city state.

Hired last year from Gunderson Dettmer, corporate specialist Ferish Patel will relocate from Hong Kong to become the partner in charge of the new outpost, while emerging company and venture capital co-chair Matthew Bartus is moving from Silicon Valley.

San Francisco-bred Cooley has picked up the pace of its international expansion lately off the back of booming business in its West Coast tech heartlands, its global revenue surging 14% to $1.23bn in 2018.

Last year it launched in Hong Kong and opened its first continental European base in Brussels.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dentons rejigs US structure in bid to create first ‘truly national’ American dream team

Dentons rejigs US structure in bid to create first ‘truly national’ American dream team

He may have overseen more than 50 law firm combinations over the last decade – 12 since July alone – but Dentons chair Joe Andrew (pictured) is adamant that the double US tie-up his firm pulled off at the beginning of October is something completely different.

Pending approval by the partnerships, the 10,000-lawyer globetrotter will in January add another 300 bodies to its sprawling verein as it combines with 175-lawyer midwest firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll and 140-strong Pennsylvania-bred Cohen & Grigsby.

Legal Business

Life During Law: David Collins

Life During Law: David Collins

I’m London born and bred, never lived anywhere else apart from three years in Manchester at university. Went to City of London School up the road, worked at St Martin’s Le Grand, Aldersgate Street, Fleet Street, Adelaide House in London Bridge and here [Fleet Place]. My wife would say I’m limited in a whole bunch of ways. To be honest, I don’t like to be too far from my family.

My mum was a formidable primary school teacher. I was in her school when she was deputy head at a state primary. Interesting experience.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: DLA wins back Proskauer real estate partner as Macfarlanes and Dentons make City hires

Revolving doors: DLA wins back Proskauer real estate partner as Macfarlanes and Dentons make City hires

City lateral recruitment picked up pace again last week as DLA Piper won back a real estate partner from Proskauer Rose, Macfarlanes hired for its financial services team and Dentons strengthened its employment bench.

Joanne Owen rejoined her old firm DLA after a three and a half-year stint in Proskauer’s City corporate team, having previously worked at DLA for nearly 20 years. She advises on institutional and corporate property matters and cross-border corporate real estate transactions. She has acted for leading private equity houses, sovereign wealth funds and private high net worth investors.

The firm has also added partner Katie Jacobson to its real estate practice in Birmingham from Hogan Lovells. Jacobson, who advises institutional investors across the retail, office and industrial sectors, will join DLA at the end of this month.

Elsewhere, Macfarlanes has hired Eversheds Sutherland financial services partner Andrew Henderson, who is set to join his new firm in early 2020.

Senior partner Charles Martin told Legal Business: ‘Andrew is an outstanding fit for us given his focus on investment management clients. He offers particular expertise in retail funds, AIFMD (alternative investment regulation) and international issues, all of which are important to many of our clients.

‘All regulated financial services businesses are dealing with a huge amount of regulatory change and active intervention from regulators. This impacts our clients in the financial services industry. They look to us for joined up advice spanning all the legal aspects of the sector that matter most to them. This almost always includes regulation and quite often means that they look to us to support them when they make important judgement calls in the regulatory field,’ added Martin.

Dentons has added to its UK people, reward and mobility team in London with the hire of employment partner Purvis Ghani from Stephenson Harwood.

Dentons’ head of UK people, reward and mobility practice, Virginia Allen, commented: ‘With [Purvis’] broad range of experience across multiple areas of employment and discrimination law, his expertise will enhance our offering which handles a full suite of UK employment, pensions, employee benefits and immigration matters for our clients worldwide.’

Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright has hired tax partner Florent Trouiller for its Luxembourg office from Dechert. Trouiller has experience in cross boarder private equity and real estate investment and has advised clients on all tax aspects of capital markets and securitisation transactions.

EMEA head of tax at Norton Rose Fulbright, Dominic Stuttaford, commented: ‘In the last few years, Luxembourg’s significance as a jurisdiction for financial institutions has grown, and its tax regime has become more complex. Therefore, a strong tax capability in Luxembourg underpins our pan-European and international tax offering.’

The Luxembourg office opened in June 2017 with three partners and is now operating with more than 18 fee earners across various practice areas.

Finally, Taylor Wessing has hired back its former Dubai head of corporate and co-managing partner Osama Hassan after an eight-year stint at Pinsent Masons. He joins as the firm’s Dubai managing partner and was previously head of the Middle East group and the corporate practice at Pinsent Masons.

Managing partner Shane Gleghorn commented: ‘Osama is widely recognised in the UAE market. We have a long-established platform in Dubai and our international client base has evolved significantly in TMC and private wealth. These are areas that we are known for being strong in and Osama’s experience across family owned businesses and technology in the region are hard to compete with.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dentons double merger adds 300 lawyers to create ‘first truly national US law firm’

Dentons double merger adds 300 lawyers to create ‘first truly national US law firm’

Dentons will have more than 1,000 lawyers across 33 US markets following the latest in a long line of tie-ups announced since the start of the summer.

After expanding in South America, Asia Pacific and Africa through ten mergers since July, the globetrotting firm has announced it is to combine with 175-lawyer Midwest firm Bingham Greenebaum and 140-strong Pennsylvania-bred Cohen & Grigsby.

Subject to approval by the partnerships and expected to launch in January 2020, the tie-up with the two US shops is the first step in what chief executive Elliott Portnoy (pictured) described as a plan to ‘create the first truly national US law firm’.

‘Clients want to work with a firm that can support the wide variety of specialties they demand in the markets where they do business but today no full service law firm has offices in all [of the] 20 largest US legal markets,’ said Portnoy, describing the rationale behind what the firm dubbed ‘Project Golden Spike’.

Borne of the 2012 merger between Indianapolis-bred Bingham McHale and Louisville-based Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, Bingham Greenebaum has six offices across Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, covering transactional, litigation, estate planning, tax and employee benefits.

Cohen & Grigsby launched in 1981 and has offices in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Naples, Florida, with a focus on mid-market M&A and private equity. It also covers areas including employment, IP, real estate, public finance, litigation and bankruptcy.

At launch, the combined firm will have almost 1,100 lawyers across 33 US markets.

The combinations announced today will have a different structure than usual in that lawyers at member firms will get dual partnership status, becoming partners at the newly formed Dentons US while remaining partners at their existing firm. Dentons’ chair Joe Andrew told Legal Business: ‘Individual firms will maintain their client relationships, control rates, governance, determine who will be a partner, but also be part of a national and global firm. Everyone who is a partner in the US will be a member of two partnerships.’

He said that the idea for the project was first conceived about two years ago with the realisation that US firms were small in proportion to the size of the market. ‘It is odd, since all of the largest US companies are spread all across the country.’

‘We have spent one-and-a-half years understanding how we can build from scratch the first national firm in the US to objectively improve client service,’ said Andrew. ‘If you can do that, revenue and all those things will follow. This became the number one highest priority for the firm.’

He added that the project was named Golden Spike to mark the 150th anniversary of the railway line that ‘brought the US together’.

The two firms announcing the combination with Dentons today, which will be known as Dentons Bingham Greenebaum and Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, helped conceive the project alongside two other firms that are expected to officially join the project next year. Andrew said Dentons was in conversations with ‘more than half a dozen’ other firms.

These latest mergers mean Dentons has left further behind the 10,000-lawyer mark across 73 countries. The expansion spree began at the end of July, when Dentons announced it was merging with New Zealand firm Kensington Swan.

In the following two months, nine other mergers followed in Honduras, South Korea, Uruguay, Argentina, as well as five African countries.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dentons and Akin Gump double up in London as Squire Patton Boggs offsets loss in the City

Revolving doors: Dentons and Akin Gump double up in London as Squire Patton Boggs offsets loss in the City

A busy week for lateral hires saw Dentons, Akin Gump and Squire Patton Boggs each make City hires as DLA Piper turned to Aviva to expand its pensions team.

Dentons said today (30 September) it had hired M&A and private equity partner Paul Doris from the London office of US firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. He is the firm’s third corporate lateral hire in the last 18 months and advises financial sponsors, particularly in energy and infrastructure and in markets including Spain and Latin America.

Dentons’ UK corporate head David Collins (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Paul’s skillset, sector focus and geographic coverage are all very much aligned to our strategy of building out a diversified corporate transactional practice in the UK which connects with our colleagues across the UK and the Dentons global platform.’

He added: ‘After what felt like a slightly extended summer break and pause in activity after a very busy first half of the year, we are back to high levels of activity across the team.’

Doris follows Dentons announcing last week it had hired restructuring and insolvency partner Richard Pallot-Cook in London. He re-joins from Simmons & Simmons and was previously a partner at Dentons.

Akin Gump, meanwhile, added two partners to its private equity practice, with Shaun Lascelles and Simon Rootsey joining the firm’s London office from Vinson & Elkins.

Partner in charge of Akin Gump’s London office, Sebastian Rice, told Legal Business: ‘We were very impressed with the work they’ve done, culturally they’re a great fit and we hope they will be a strong addition to our corporate team in terms of the clients they advise and the type of work they do.’

Akin Gump also hired finance partner Michael Gustafson to its London office from Pricoa Private Capital, where he was deputy chief legal officer. Gustafson was previously a partner at Bingham McCutchen before its London office joined Akin Gump in 2014.

‘The team who joined from Bingham McCutchen regarded Gustafson incredibly highly and he does very similar work to what we do. He’s coming back and we’re really excited to have him back,’ Rice added.

Squire Patton Boggs went both ways in London with the hire of banking partner Ian Yeo from Herbert Smith Freehills. The firm also lost employment partner Natalie Bellwood, however, to B2B IT services provider DXC Technology, where she becomes global head of employment.

Elsewhere, DLA hired Amrit McLean from Aviva, where she was propositions and sales director, as a partner to launch the firm’s pensions de-risking service. McLean has 13 years’ experience in pensions de-risking and pensions bulk annuity work.

UK head of pensions at DLA Piper Ben Miller told Legal Business: ‘There’s an awful lot of insurance that is being issued. There is a real need within the market for a really strong and comprehensive team led by somebody who has that sector experience and that’s what we’re able to do here.’

Finally, Osborne Clarke made a lateral hire from Thrings, bringing in Steve Schofield to its UK real estate practice, while in Poland, DWF appointed partner Paweł Stykowski as head of insurance in the firm’s Warsaw office. He joins from Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland where he headed the financial services and compliance practice.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dentons furthers pan-African play as it announces five new local deals

Dentons furthers pan-African play as it announces five new local deals

Dentons is showing no sign of slowing its expansion spree of late, making it ten tie-ups in less than two months after announcing it is to enter another five African countries and add a further 54 lawyers to its ranks.

The 10,000-lawyer firm said it is to combine with a firm each in Angola, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia, building on what chief executive Elliott Portnoy described as a strategy to ‘become the first pan-African law firm, owned and controlled by Africans’.

Subject to a vote by the partnership which will take place before 25 September, the African firms Dentons is to add to its global verein this time around are: ten-lawyer LEAD Advogados in Angola; 12-lawyer Sayarh & Menjra in Morocco; 17-lawyer Fernanda Lopes & Associados Advogados in Mozambique; four-lawyer Kyagaba and Otatiina Advocates in Uganda; and 11-lawyer Eric Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners in Zambia.

Dentons Africa chief executive Noor Kapdi told Legal Business: ‘We collected client data and based on that data we were able to identify which jurisdictions our clients are most interested in and prioritise those jurisdictions.’

He pointed to client interest in the oil and gas resources of countries like Angola, as well as the infrastructure projects in countries including Mozambique. In Morocco, where the firm already had a representative office in Casablanca, the combination with Sayarh & Menjra will allow Dentons to practise local law.

Kapdi said he saw room for expansion in all those countries: ‘That’s just a natural consequence of combining with Dentons: those firms will become immediately identifiable by thousands of lawyers all over the world who have clients working in those jurisdictions. That drives growth.’

The latest mergers follow the firm’s combinations in Argentina and Uruguay, announced last week, and those in Honduras, South Korea and New Zealand earlier in the summer.

Dentons created a separate governance structure for its African business in 2017, spinning it off from its European regional management and appointing Johannesburg-based Kapdi to lead it. The firm has rapidly expanded in the continent adding Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe to its existing offices in Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.

Looking at the next stages of the firm’s African expansion, Kapdi said Dentons was looking at Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria, where plans are already at an advanced stage, as well as Tunisia and Algeria.

Speaking to Legal Business earlier this year, Dentons’ chair Joe Andrew promised: ‘If you look at a map, any place we’re not, we are making an effort.’

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Dentons makes it five mergers in a month with Argentina and Uruguay tie-ups

Dentons makes it five mergers in a month with Argentina and Uruguay tie-ups

Dentons has capped off an expansive summer, even by its own standards, announcing it is to enter Argentina and Uruguay through its fourth and fifth combinations respectively in just over a month.

The 10,000-lawyer firm announced today (4 September) it will add another 80 to its ranks by absorbing Rattagan Macchiavello Arocena in Buenos Aires and Jiménez de Aréchaga, Viana & Brause in Montevideo.

Subject to a partner vote taking place over the next two weeks, chair Joe Andrew (pictured) said the move would make Dentons ‘the first truly pan-Latin American and Caribbean firm in the history of the legal profession’.

‘We already have coverage in Mexico, central America and most of the Caribbean,’ Latin America and the Caribbean chief executive Jorge Alers told Legal Business. ‘So the last remaining area where we needed to establish a presence was South America.’

In Argentina the firm will initially focus on M&A and environmental work, but Alers said that it could soon expand into other areas: ‘While we may start with a more focused platform, what we have seen in the region is that, because of the global platform of Dentons, we are often able to expand to include new areas and practices.’

He pointed to the firm’s Chile practice, which in its first year of operation almost doubled its size to around 60 lawyers. The firm also has offices in Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, as well as a strategic alliance in Brazil.

The mergers come just over a month after the firm said it was merging with New Zealand firm Kensington Swan bringing its lawyer headcount in the region to over 500.

In the following seven days, it announced a tie-up with Gustavo Zacapa y Asociados in Honduras and Lee International in South Korea.

Speaking to Legal Business last month, Andrews said: ‘The more places you are the more pressure there is to be in even more places. In May 2016 we had no presence in South America, now we have more presence in South America and the Caribbean than anyone else.’

Also in 2019, Dentons combined with MawereSibanda in Zimbabwe and acquired Norton Rose Fulbright’s Venezuela business.

Andrews concluded: ‘If you look at a map, any place we’re not, we are making an effort.’

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk