International Law Firms to Combine as SNR Denton

US-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and UK-based Denton Wilde Sapte announce plans to create elite client-focused firm with 1,400 lawyers in 18 countries

May 27, 2010 // Franchising.com // NEW YORK/LONDON – Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (SNR) and Denton Wilde Sapte LLP (Denton) announce their management boards have recommended combining to create an integrated global firm. The combination is subject to a partnership vote by each firm on June 9, 2010.

SNR Denton would be a top 25 law firm worldwide by size, with approximately 1,400 lawyers and fee earners on four continents, a presence in 18 countries, and its two largest offices in London and New York. The combined firm will join complementary practices with a disciplined focus on meeting evolving client needs in eight key sectors: Financial Institutions and Funds; Energy, Transport and Infrastructure; Insurance; Real Estate, Retail and Hotels; Technology, Media & Telecommunications; Health and Life Sciences; Manufacturing; and Government.

SNR Chairman Elliott Portnoy, who will become co-CEO of SNR Denton, said: "This combination is the next step in our vision to create an elite, client-focused international firm that is about one thing – quality. Both firms have long enjoyed reputations as being world class, and now together we'll have the assets and professional resources to carry that forward to new sectors, new practices, and new markets. As one firm, we will be able to serve our clients better."

Denton CEO Howard Morris, who will become co-CEO of SNR Denton, added: "Our two firms already share a number of complementary features – our respective practice strengths, our focus on highest-quality client service, and especially our cultures. This is a unique opportunity for us to dramatically increase our business momentum and growth. As a combined firm, we will not only have leading capabilities in prominent business centers, such as New York and London, but will also offer clients the same capability in the world's most dynamic emerging economies."

"Our decision to combine was far from serendipitous – we each had strategic reviews that led us to each other," Mr. Portnoy said.

Mr. Morris added: "Neither of us was interested in pursuing a combination just for the sake of increasing head count and offices – this is not about dots on a map. The end goal for both firms was enhancing legal quality and client service, while also creating a strong global platform. Our newly branded firm will achieve all three objectives."

Following the approval of the proposed combination, SNR Denton will maintain a focused strategic approach in order to leverage the strength of each legacy firm and to broaden and deepen the resources and expertise available on clients' behalf. The combined firm will join Denton's historic strengths in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Africa with SNR's presence across the US and key EU markets. The two legacy firms offer complementary practices but distinct geographic footprints, with no overlap and no planned office closures.

If approved by the respective partnerships, the combination would become effective September 30, 2010 and would be structured as a Swiss Verein, similar to other professional services and law firm combinations. In addition to the proposed co-CEOs, Martin Kitchen of Denton and Joseph Andrew of SNR will serve as the co-Chairmen of SNR Denton.

Denton's origins date back to two City of London firms founded in the late 1700s. Operating as Denton since 2000, the firm was one of the first UK practices to concentrate its business around industry expertise. The firm's four sector focuses are Financial Institutions; Energy Transport & Infrastructure; Real Estate & Retail; and Technology, Media & Telecom. In recent years, Denton has developed one of the most distinctive geographic footprints in rapidly growing emerging markets and is the largest law firm in the Middle East, through offices in Russia and the CIS, and in Europe with one of the most extensive networks of associate firms in Africa.

Established in 1906, SNR has 13 offices throughout North America and in Western Europe. Chambers & Partners has recognized nearly one-third of its partners with top-tier rankings. In 2009, the firm dramatically expanded by acquiring over 100 lawyers from the former New York firm Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP. These lawyers joined SNR as part of the firm's ongoing efforts to accelerate its top-ranked client-service capabilities.

Morris and Portnoy confirmed that the two firms have been in discussion for a number of months.

Legal Notice

This information relates to a proposed international legal practice, which has not been approved or consummated by the parties. Until such time, Denton Wilde Sapte LLP (incorporated in England and Wales under no. OC322045) and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (a US limited liability partnership, registered in Delaware) remain separate and independent legal entities.

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