Dentons To Close Singapore Office

This seems to be a polite way of saying that Dacheng are being very bossy….


GT Review report:

Law firm Dentons is to close its Singapore practice, months after a merger with one of China’s biggest law firms, GTR has learnt.

Multiple internal and external sources have confirmed that the firm’s respected banking and trade finance practice, which is known for its extensive work on commodity finance transactions across the Asean region, is to close its doors, with partners being offered the opportunity to relocate to other Dentons practices around the world.

A Dentons spokesperson confirmed that the firm was “restructuring” in Singapore, and that its clients would be serviced from the offices of Dacheng in Singapore once the integration is complete.

In a statement issued to GTR, the firm said:

“In the wake of the combination with ?? [the Mandarin word for “Dacheng”], the firm has evaluated how to most efficiently serve the needs of its clients in the Singapore market, in which both Dentons and ?? have a presence. Dentons can confirm that the ?? Wong Alliance will be its offering in Singapore once the combination with ?? is complete. The firm’s current Singapore presence is small and niche, focusing exclusively on trade finance. Singapore is an important market that we can leverage more effectively for our clients through a larger presence with a broader offering.”

On the issue of staffing, it said: “Discussions with our lawyers and staff in Singapore are ongoing.”

Dentons merged with Dacheng in January to create the world’s largest law firm by headcount, employing some 6,600 lawyers in over 50 countries. It was the second merger between an international and a Chinese law firm, after Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jacques merged with King & Wood in 2011.

At the time of the merger, it was announced that Dacheng would keep its name in China but operate under the combined “Dentons” entity outside of Mainland China.

The new firm uses a verein structure, which means that the pair keep separate finances but share clients. This allows them to sidestep some of the financial structuring challenges that typically follow large legal mergers such as this, but also means that the two firms may struggle to integrate with each other.

Legal figures at the time told GTR that they expected this integration challenge to be a key issue for the new firm, saying that while Dacheng has an unquestionable network of lawyers, many Chinese firms struggle with integration internally, with offices effectively operating as separate silos.

However, in a media roadshow earlier this year, senior Dentons staff were keen to talk up the new global network of lawyers created, publicising the access to local knowledge the merger with Dacheng would allow the firm to offer to its clients.

Dentons CEO Elliott Portnoy told media post-merger that he expected Dacheng’s clients to gain advice from Dentons in the west, with Dentons’ clients doing the same in China.

He said: “There is a tremendous focus on part of the Chinese legal sector and economic sector on growth outside of China. And our conversations with our clients suggest that they believe navigating the legal and economic landscape in China is, in many instances, their most significant business priority.”

Dentons today said that it was “committed to its trade finance practice with clients continuing to benefit from its award-winning, global team”.