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Dentons enters Scotland with Maclay Murray & Spens tie-up

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The biggest law firm in the world just got bigger

Global colossus Dentons has announced it will be swallowing up yet another law firm, this time in Scotland.

Dentons, already the largest law firm in the world by headcount, has today confirmed it will combine with leading Scottish outfit Maclay Murray & Spens. The tie-up is due to be completed later this year and will see Dentons gain new offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It will also bolster Dentons’ already sizeable London headcount, as Maclay has one office in the Barbican.

The merger has been given the green light by Maclay’s partners and Dentons’ UK, Middle East and Africa (UKMEA) partners. However, final approval from the Dentons’ global partnership is still required and is expected to come through in the next few weeks.

So what do we know about Maclay? The firm, founded in 1871 and headquartered in Glasgow, is a commercial all-rounder with roughly 250 lawyers on its books. Maclay’s 2015/16 financials (it hasn’t released its latest results) show that net profit at the firm stands at £10 million, a decrease of 20% on the previous year, while profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped by just over 12% to £248,000.

Meanwhile, Dentons has over 7,600 lawyers across 120 offices. The firm was created in 2013 following a three way merger between: Anglo-American outfit SNR Denton, Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain and French-headquartered Salans. Dentons’ 2016/17 UKMEA financial results revealed revenue increased to £166 million, a rise of 1%, while PEP slumped by 9% to £481,000.

Commenting on today’s tie-up, Dentons’ global chief executive officer, Elliott Portnoy, said:

Combining with strong, independent and well-established firms is central to Dentons’ ‘in and of the community’ ethos, and with its rich history in the Scottish market Maclay Murray & Spens fits very much into this category.

The deal comes almost two years after industry rumours suggested Maclay was engaged in cross-border merger talks with northern giant Addleshaw Goddard. The combo chatter was eventually put to bed three months later when a spokesperson for Maclay revealed it was not in discussions with any firm about a possible merger.

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