The world’s largest law firm, Dentons has set itself the goal of deepening its presence in the United States legal market. The firm already has 23 office locations in the US but it believes that this is only the beginning of a further expansion in the world’s largest legal services market.
Dentons has a greater number of offices in China than in the US. Globally, the firm is comprised of 10,300+ lawyers in 182 locations. Denton’s earliest predecessor law firm can be traced to 1742 in London. The current growth strategy has been in place since 2013.
Since 2013, Dentons has completed more than 40 whole firm combinations. With the merger of China firm Dacheng in 2015, Dentons became known as the largest law firm in the world by headcount.
The firm has published its rationale and approach for continued growth:
“In a large, culturally diverse law firm, it is even more important to have clarity regarding what everyone is trying to accomplish together and how they will accomplish it.”
“Dentons’ foundation is its polycentric nature. It has no dominant culture…. It has no single headquarters”
The firm’s stated purpose: “As passionate, polycentric change-makers, we create value for our clients and communities by connecting our talent to the world’s challenges and opportunities.”
“Denton’s strategy to achieve its goal is to scale the business, connect the business and innovate the business of law.”
The report adds:
“Since its founding in 2013, each legacy region of Dentons has experienced gains in net income and revenues, in constant dollar terms, from its 2013 levels. This provides ample evidence that Dentons’ global platform increases profitability for each of its regions, both through the generation of cross-region work and the incentives it has put in place for lawyers to send work to other regions.”
“To scale is to do more than just grow. To scale is to be appropriately sized for each market and to lower the costs of serving each market.”
Dentons’ formula for success
In October 2019, Dentons US, Bingham Greenebaum and Cohen & Grigsby announced that they would combine. It was also announced that it “represents the first step in forming the first truly national law firm in the US.”
“The US is the largest legal market in the world, yet US law firms are disproportionately small relative to the size of the market. No full service law firm has offices in all 20 of the largest US legal markets, much less the top 100 – a surprising fact, given the distribution of the country’s largest publicly held companies from coast to coast. This is despite the considerable pressure for consolidation from clients who want to reduce the number of firms they use and the corresponding need for law firms to be of sufficient scale that they can support the myriad specialties clients demand.
“Building on Dentons’ global polycentric model, the new partnership – beginning with Dentons US, Bingham Greenebaum and Cohen & Grigsby – will represent the first step in forming a truly national US law firm that is able to serve as a one-stop shop for clients, increasing the quality and breadth of service to clients on a national and global scale, while also enabling member firms to retain their defining characteristics and provide in and of the community insight wherever clients need it.
“The firms call this model “Golden Spike” in honor of the celebratory railroad spike that 150 years ago completed the first transcontinental railroad in the US and united the Nation in commerce.
“This law firm model is analogous with the arrival of the smartphone,” said Joe Andrew, Global Chair of Dentons. “Hard lines, flip phones and smartphones all provide telecommunications but a smartphone does a lot more. Project Golden Spike will build a law firm that will be capable of offering clients more.”