Dentons Kensington Swan: World’s largest law firm launches in New Zealand

The firm retains its existing partnership and remains locally owned, run and managed

Dentons Kensington Swan: World’s largest law firm launches in New Zealand

The combination of leading New Zealand law firm Kensington Swan with Dentons has gone live.

Dentons Kensington Swan has officially launched today, marking the entry of the world’s largest law firm into New Zealand. The firm says that while its name has changed, its local ownership remains unchanged and it retains its existing partnership. It will also continue to be locally owned, run, and managed.

“Being ‘in and of’ the community in which you operate and do business is one of the core values and differentiators of Dentons,” the firm said.

David Campbell and Charles Spillane will continue their roles as board chair and chief executive of Dentons Kensington Swan, respectively. With the combination, Dentons Kensington Swan clients can now access the global behemoth’s pool of more than 10,000 lawyers. Dentons clients will now also have access to the expertise of Dentons Kensington Swan in New Zealand, which has more than 100 lawyers working out of offices in Auckland and Wellington.

“We are thrilled to launch our combination with Dentons as we can now provide clients with the greatest access to top-tier legal talent in the most locations worldwide,” Campbell said. “Our existing and future clients who are operating across Australasia and beyond will now only need to deal with one firm globally and we can offer them exceptional service.”

The combination was announced in July and was approved by the Dentons and Kensington Swan partnerships less than a month later.

Attractive combination

Among the reasons why Dentons Kensington Swan elected to become part of Dentons was the ability to serve clients around the world, while bringing global expertise to benefit New Zealand-based organisations, the firm said. Dentons Kensington Swan also said it was attracted to Nextlaw Enterprise, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the global law firm for innovation, advisory, and technology.

The combination provides significant improvement in client service, as well as savings, Spillane said.

“As part of Dentons, we can now offer our clients access to the best in class innovative legal and business technology. Previously, this technology was prohibitively expensive and therefore not accessible to our domestic market. This is a real revolution for our firm and for our clients as it will help us provide an even more tailored and seamless delivery to our clients aligned to their strategic and commercial goals,” Spillane said.

Hayden Wilson, board member of Dentons Kensington Swan, said: “The point of the combination is that it will provide a one-firm experience for all our clients. It will also provide our employees with access to a global hot bed of talent and innovative thinking, which will allow us to challenge the traditional thinking of law, for the benefit of our clients.”

Larger global plans

Elliott Portnoy, global chief executive of Dentons, said that New Zealand is important to the firm’s clients.

“Clients identified the New Zealand market as a priority and our launch in New Zealand means that we can now connect clients in New Zealand to 10,000+ lawyers in 182 locations and 74 countries around the globe, Portnoy said.

Dentons said that the combination is part of its part of its journey to becoming the dominant global law firm in Australasia. The launch of Dentons Kensington Swan also follows Dentons’ combinations in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“Our combination with leading law firm Kensington Swan in New Zealand will continue Dentons' momentum in Australasia, enabling us to attract even more talent in this important region for Dentons and our clients globally,” said Joe Andrew, global chair of Dentons.

Doug Stepanicev, chief executive of Dentons’ Australasia region, said that the firm has become a “regional powerhouse” because of its significant growth in Australasia since 2016 and with launch of Dentons Kensington Swan.

Dentons said that its partners approved more whole-firm combinations last year than any other law firm. Just last month, the firm launched Dentons Bingham Greenebaum and Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, which it said is the first phase of its “Project Golden Spike” that aims to make Dentons a truly national law firm in the US.

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