November 8, 2012 6:06 pm

Three law firms join under Dentons banner

A Canadian, European and US law firm will combine by early next year to form a top 15 firm with $1.3bn in revenues, under plans to be voted on by the three partnerships at the end of this month.

Dentons will be a firm formed through the merger of US-based SNR Denton, Fraser Milner Casgrain of Canada and Paris-headquartered Salans.

By revenue, it would rank as the 13th biggest in the world based on 2011 reported figures compiled by Legal Business magazine.

SNR Denton is itself a 2010 combination between the UK’s Denton Wilde Sapte and an American counterpart, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

Demand for cross-border reach, particularly from energy clients, was behind the decision, said Elliott Portnoy, SNR Denton’s chief executive, who will also become global CEO of Dentons under the proposed tie-up.

Similar imperatives have driven other recent mergers in the legal market, including that of Norton Rose, which combined with firms in Australia, South Africa and Canada in the past 18 months. Last week another Canadian firm, Fasken Martineau, announced it was merging with a South African counterpart, Bell Dewar, to benefit from the natural resources boom in both countries.

Like Norton Rose, Dentons will operate as a so-called verein structure, which means the firm will not share one profit pool. It will, however, have one governance structure and board, and will share marketing and IT systems. Clients will only receive one bill on multi-jurisdictional work, Mr Portnoy said.

“The tectonic plates of the legal landscape are shifting pretty dramatically around us, and this is leading to a lot of consolidation,” said Joe Andrew, SNR Denton’s chairman who will be the new firm’s global chairman under the plan.

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