The Legal Cheek View
The world's largest law firm by headcount may not quite be the world's largest law firm by revenue, but it's getting close. Dentons turned over an incredible $2.61 billion last year (£2 billion), an amount only surpassed by five other firms on the planet.
The pace of growth has been searing, thanks largely to Dentons' merger with one of the biggest law firms in China, Dacheng, last year. Other recent bolt-ons to what until as recently as 2010 was London corporate outfit Denton Wilde Sapte include major practices from the US, Canada and France. These days Dentons has more than 80 offices in over 50 countries and counting. Among these are some of the most interestingly located bases of any international firm, with outposts for example in Turkmenistan, the Cape Verde Islands and Mongolia. Closer to home, Dentons has offices in Milton Keynes and Watford as well as a big City of London base.
With such global coverage, you'd think that trainee life at the firm would be one long gap year, but international secondments are actually fairly rare among current London rookies. Still, Legal Cheek is aware of a lucky rookie who snaffled five months in San Francisco recently.
Dentons is a happy ship right now as the strategy to achieve major scale seems to be delivering. Insiders report that the training is very good, with senior lawyers who are more approachable than most and one of the most supportive trainee cohorts in the country. There has also been praise for Dentons' foray into the world of legal innovation via its Nextlaw Labs project to incubate lawtech start-ups.
Work-life balance is more reasonable than many places in the City, while pay was augmented by rises last year. The firm does reasonably well for perks, with the free breakfasts before 8:30am in the canteen seen by some as a cynical attempt to get lawyers to turn up early, rather than a delightful freebie for early risers. But reduced price cinema tickets, flights and sporting events like touch rugby with a budget afterwards for food and drinks are generally appreciated. There are also quirkier activities like pumpkin carving competitions and hiking weekends.
Practice area-wise, Dentons' London office has a history of expertise in the slightly unlikely combination of banking & finance and media law (thanks to an earlier merger). These strengths endure, but part of the deal of being a global megafirm is that you have lawyers for everything and this looks like very much the direction of travel for Dentons.