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How Big Will Dentons Become?
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how large will they get

Summary: Dentons ’ strategy may have them at 10,000 lawyers in the near future.

How does every sci fi B-movie go? Often enough some everyday creature such as an iguana, a crab, or a teenage girl somehow gets very large and garners a lot of attention, meanwhile jeopardizing society as we know it. The issue resolves when the overblown creature somehow collapses on itself, too big to defend itself or otherwise unstable. Rarely, though, does it starve to death, as you might predict.

  
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So what we can expect for Dentons isn’t certain at this point. They are the number one largest firm in the world, after a rash of mergers, pole-vaulting them to 6,600 lawyers strong. Further, Elliott Portnoy, Denton’s global chief executive officer, when asked how big they will become, said “There is no logical end. We’re going to be driven by our strategy.”

Perhaps legal consultant Peter Zeughauser isn’t a sci fi prognosticator when he said “I think we’re going to see a 10,000-lawyer law firm within five years. The rules are being rewritten.”

Well that’s the annoying thing about rules, isn’t it? And Dentons is eager to debunk the “myth” that a firm that grows too big will struggle to avoid conflicts of interest among clients.

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“What we’re trying to do is take these myths that have gathered up in the legal profession and simply say [they’re not true],” said Denton’s global chairman, Joseph Andrew.

The “myth” that they are trying to say is not true can be worked around if they are willing to find a wider variety of work. Then conflicts won’t arise. And so they are trying to do more routine, low-margin work on top of the big time assignments.



Critics are less generous regarding the strategy, with Jordan Furlong saying, “Growth is not an end in itself. What end are you trying to achieve through the tactic of getting large?”

Nevertheless, with DLA Piper at 4,200 lawyers, and Baker & McKenzie at over 4,200 lawyers, Dentons isn’t alone in becoming some unearthly conglomerate. Such corporations heartily believe that with the trends in globalization, this is the way to go.



 

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