Dentons merges with Maclay Murray & Spens

Dentons is set to merge with Maclay Murray & Spens from Scotland, adding 258 lawyers to its UKMEA base and bringing the firm’s global headcount up to 8,695 lawyers.

Through this merger, which will complete later this year, Dentons will gain a presence in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and will add headcount to its London base.

According to the UK 200 2016, Maclays had 56.71 full time equivalent fee earners in London, of which 14.5 were partners and 7.8 were full-equity partners during the 2015/16 financial year. The entire team is expected to move to Dentons’ London office by the end of this calendar year.

As part of the deal, four of Maclays’ management team will join the Dentons UKMEA board, including Maclays chief executive Kenneth Shand and chairman Michael Livingston. Shand will also join the regional management committee, which currently has five divisions.

Maclays had previously been in merger talks with Bond Pierce (now Bond Dickinson since its merger in 2013), and was rumoured to have engaged in talks with Addleshaw Goddard and US firm Locke Lord.

Talking to The Lawyer, Shand admitted that the firm “had been interested in expanding its proposition for some time”.

“We are quite a cautious bunch in some ways but ambitious, and we believe we have found a genuinely fascinating opportunity here.

“It will bring us the much greater reach and scale both nationally and internationally that we feel we need to expand our client offering and grow new clients. It will also bring us the firepower to bring tech efficiencies to the business to develop the service we can offer. It expands the career opportunity for our people and people we want to recruit going forward.”

Dentons UKMEA CEO Jeremy Cohen said that his firm had “toyed” for a while to be in Aberdeen to support its oil and gas practice, and said that both firms had a good practice fit, with banking, financial services, energy and infrastructure capabilities.

“For some time we have wanted to grow in the UK,” he said. “Maclays is a great quality firm both in the talent of the lawyers and client base that we can take the Dentons message to.”

Shand said that this merger will allow the firm to be “the only significant player in Scotland” with a presence across all continents. “We will have a real advantage on Scottish national firms,” he said. “It will add global capability to a high quality-combined London and regional model.”

Both Shand and Cohen confirmed that “some partners” would be locked in as part of the merger deal, but would not confirm how many or for how long.

Maclays has yet to provide financial figures for the 2016/17 year, but in the previous round the firm suffered one of the biggest drops in revenue per lawyer, 10 per cent, while revenue per partner dropped by 4 per cent.

The firm’s net profit dropped by 20 per cent last year to £10m, putting it 31.5 per cent lower than it was in 2011/12 and 37.54 per cent lower than in 2007/8.

The firm dropped in equity partner numbers by 13 per cent from 46.6 to 40 during the year and profit per equity partner dropped by 12.4 per cent to £248,000.

Turnover rose by 3 per cent to £44.8m, leaving the firm still 4 per cent below its most recent high of £46.9m in 2011/12 and 27 per cent below the £61.1m posted in its best-ever year, 2007/08.


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