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Dentons closes two UK offices and moves to permanent home-working

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Measure applies to all staff including five of the firm’s trainees in Aberdeen and Watford

The world’s largest law firm by headcount is to shutter two of its UK regional offices, in Aberdeen and Watford, with all staff due to work from home permanently.

All partners and employees based in Dentons‘ Aberdeen and Watford offices will continue with their current virtual working arrangements, a statement from the firm read. They will, however, have the option to access the firm’s Edinburgh and Milton Keynes offices, respectively, when required.

A spokesperson from the firm confirmed that the measure applies to the firm’s five trainees located across these offices — two in Aberdeen and three in Watford. “All trainees will remain in their roles working with teams virtually and across its various offices,” they said.

The firm said in the statement that it is not planning to close any of its other UK premises but will review the situation when the lease on its London office expires in 2025. Dentons partially reopened its London office last month with a ‘track and trace’ system in place.

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Dentons has also set up a team to review how the lockdown has changed the way work is done. The review will look at the international firm’s use of technology with the aim of moving towards a “more agile” way of resourcing work, and in turn, its overall real estate footprint.

Lisa Sewell, managing director for the UK, Ireland and Middle East said: “We have seen far less use of paper, more self-service and confidence using new technology and no drop in productivity or service levels despite teams not being co-located 100% of the time.”

She added:

“The success of remote-working during lockdown has made us really stop and think about how we can learn from this new way of working to accelerate the physical and behavioural changes that form part of our strategy to build the law firm of the future. In that way, the lockdown has forced the behavioural shifts that are the basis of any real change of this type, so we want to use this to ensure we don’t just assume we will return to the way we used to work post lockdown. It’s an exciting shift for us, our people and for how we will be able to serve our clients in different ways in the future.”

Earlier this year Slater and Gordon announced it is to close its London office as it looks to embrace permanent remote-working. Staff will work from home for the most part from September but the national firm hopes to find a smaller office space to host in-person meetings.

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41 Comments

Person who actually likes society

This sounds awful.

(79)(17)

Not a fan of society

Why? I’m not a fan of sweaty commutes, hallway chatter, and overpriced lunch. I am, however, keen on spending time with my gf and loved ones, in the comfort of my home, wearing sweatpants most days. Making proper lunch, enjoying the garden, taking a stroll through the woods.

And earning City cash on top of that? Yes please!

(33)(13)

Still a fan of society

All very nice if you already have:

– A partner or significant other who you don’t mind having no space from, forever
– no need to get mental space between where you live and where you work
– the time to cook (instead of eases just expecting you to work longer instead of commuting)
– Plenty of space at home to work in, especially if you need confidentiality from your partner/flat mate
– a wood to walk in
– access to resources like printers, scanners etc on hand in place of those at work
– no interest in being able to meet friends and colleagues after work

Just to name a few.

(53)(9)

Still not a huge fan of society

All valid points, it essentially comes down to the worse your homestead situation is (in terms of privacy, comfort, amenities, relationships with housemates / partners), the worse your WFH experience will be.

But one thing which I don’t get is, most lawyers earning City cash (even at a firm like Dentons, which isn’t really know for high comp packages) will be able to solve most of those problems without issue. You can absolutely afford a small flat for yourself, perhaps even take out a mortgage, at 80/90/100k, especially if you permanently WFH and thus have no need for Zones 1/2, or even London itself.

Money can’t, of course, buy you a relationship or friends (at least that’s my belief), but you’re unlikely to find a partner at work anyway, and you can always get together with colleagues after work / over the weekend even if you’re all WFH. I concede that perhaps some spontaneity is lost if you don’t see each other on a daily basis, but your social life would have to be pretty glib as is for that to have a net negative impact on your life given all the positives related to WFH.

(7)(9)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“Glib” is entirely the wrong word.

Mark Elt

Why are you assuming that firms will continue to pay ‘city cash’?

Jo

This is all great, but what happens when they decide that ‘London weighting’ will no longer apply to salaries if no one has to go into London anymore?

(1)(0)

Watford’s #1 Business Park Owner

There goes a good chunk of rent

(20)(0)

Iapetus

Weird. Greenwang Glusker LLP’s Watford office is our most profitable, billing eleventy-one sesterces per quarter.

(16)(3)

Bob the Banter Inspector

Yawn, 2/10. Must try harder!

(15)(5)

2PQE

Hope more firms do this! Although it has it’s flaws, WFH is great imo.

(17)(40)

Anonymous

Wfh is great if you can afford a nice place with a space for doing work, however younger people tend to be renting small flats which they might be sharing, with no real work space. It’s nice to have the option but it’s not nice to have it forced as default

(54)(7)

Anxious and eager

Before this was all the norm we used to ask to work from home a couple days a week as it is nice to have a break. However, from now experiencing this for three months I am absolutely looking forward to getting back into the office. The savings from travel (both in money and time) aside, perm working from home becomes a bit of a drag when you don’t leave your house all day and have no human interaction. I fear the postman is going to think I am propositioning him soon.

(33)(6)

Anonymous

From the videos I have watched over lock down postmen, pizza delivery men and handymen of all types react enthusiastically to any proposition. I can’t tell how the relationships worked out as I never watched through to the end, but from the 5 minutes or so I did watch things seemed to be going very well indeed.

(35)(0)

Anon

Is Dentons a good firm for PE related work?

(5)(3)

Helpful John

Dentons’s London office is ranked Band 4 in Chambers for Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market. Make of that what you will.

(6)(1)

Dentons 1PQE

With the right experience there you should have no trouble joining Kirkland or Latham as a PE NQ.

(5)(2)

Kirkland 5PQE

Lol, what?

(0)(1)

Geography Is Pretty Simple

“They will, however, have the option to access the firm’s nearby Edinburgh and Milton Keynes offices when required” Nearby? Aberdeen is 129 miles and 2hr 40minutes drive from Edinburgh.

(77)(0)

Anon

As someone who usually makes this journey fairly often for family reasons I can the trains are unreliable and can be very expensive unless booked well in advance. It’s definitely not a nearby office

(19)(0)

truthsiren

Lmao sick burn!

(0)(0)

It's all relative

Next they will be closing the London office and offering staff the chance to relocate to “nearby” Birmingham. After all, Birmingham is closer to London than Edinburgh is to Aberdeen.

(21)(0)

truthsiren

Relocate to Birmingham? I’d rather move to Chernobyl.

(19)(10)

Anon

With HS2, just wait. HSBC already have. No need to pay ‘London’ salaries either.

(2)(0)

Hamish

I do wonder whether this is in effect a closure of its operations in Aberdeen – just wait for natural attrition to do its thing. I doubt they’ll be recruiting people to WFH in Aberdeen, and suspect a decent chunk of partners will be expected to relocate to the central belt.

(19)(1)

Student

Was considering applying for a traineeship here but it’s definitely put me off

(8)(2)

LETS BE POSITIVE.

Working from home is going to be the new normal. Whether blended working or working full time. It’s the way forward particularly for young lawyers in my experience who are looking for the flexibility. The need to be chained to an office desk in a suit all day every day has gone.

It’s absolutely not the beginning of the end of these offices but more so the start of a new dawn in which other firms will no doubt follow suit.

Oil and gas and banking firms are already doing the same. Barclays are closing their Canary Wharf offices for goodness sake.

There’s the option to travel and work at other offices, yes, but in no way will that be expectation. Simply personal choice.

It’s a great idea and this way avoids the months of “consultation” and going round in circles. Boom. It’s done.

(4)(7)

Mark Elt

Barclays aren’t closing their Canary Wharf offices.

(3)(1)

Disgruntled Applicant

I was going to apply to the Watford office but thank God I didn’t.

(5)(1)

Pays £700 pcm for fuck all space

Permanent WFH only suits senior partners who would much prefer to work from their sizeable properties, than commute for hours. These same people are in the position to decide on the firms WFH policy, so naturally other employees are fucked.

(36)(1)

Junior chancery bazza

Bought a big pile on the burbs after a few years in practice. Loving life at home. Soz

(2)(5)

Suburban purgatory

You live in the suburbs mate. Jokes on you.

(1)(0)

Ex-Dentons

The closure of the Watford office has been coming a very long time. Dentons acquired Matthew Arnold & Baldwin for its banking and finance litigation team 5 years ago and filleted out the rest of the firm. That banking and finance team was itself originally an in-house team at one of the big banks (Barclays, I think) which was outsourced to MA&B. Once that book of business has been siphoned off, there’s not much reason to keep the old team intact.

I don’t remember seeing anything about them moving offices, so they were probably massively under-occupied or maybe even sub-leasing to others (which won’t be making any money for anyone any time soon).

Also, the Milton Keynes office covers off the “southern, but not London rates” part of the offering and is next door to Network Rail, which is a huge Dentons client, and which uses the Milton Keynes team a lot.

I don’t know as much about the Aberdeen office, apart from to note that the office closure can be seen as part of the long term decline of Aberdeen as the oil runs out/becomes unprofitable to get.

(12)(1)

Grimace

Sounds grim. What a horrible existence to have to work from home forevermore.

(23)(3)

Yuck

Especially if that home was in Watford or Aberdeen.

(0)(1)

John

John Lewis has closed in Watford

(3)(0)

Braveheart

If you’re close enough to cycle, why not be given the chance to come to the office?

I’d take a short exercise commute over a hot stuffy room, some form of building work that never stops , and screaming kids any day.

(2)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

I DON’T WANT TO HIRE A LAWYER WHO SITS SPLAYED ON HIS SOFA IN HIS JIM JAMS PLAYING WITH HIMSELF WHEN I HAVE A PHONE MEETING WITH HIM.

or her

(4)(2)

Anon

This is basically most barristers. You never want to instruct a barrister?

(1)(1)

anon

Awful. I would demand an office transfer or quit the firm if I worked in these offices.

This move towards “home working”, which by the way is motivated entirely by profit margins than any care for the welfare of employees, will lead to a new glut of mental health issues. If this lockdown has taught me anything, it’s just how much I benefit from daily human contact, working in a different place to where I sleep, or at the very least being able to chop and change scenery on a regular basis.

(9)(1)

Lionel Shriker

You will usually find that most of those “loving” WFH (and propositioning full time WFH) are usually senior management whose large houses have dedicated office rooms and the only issue they have in WFH is that the gardner can’t come in as often to trim their large lawn…
What about those working out of a shoebox flat, breaking their backs working from bed because there is no space for an ergonomic desk and chair?
How will new employees and interns (so common in the legal world) learn what they need to know about the workplace through a computer screen?
What impact does staring at a screen for 9 hours a day have on the mind when done day in and day out?
This is just an excuse for short term cost cutting, utilising “productivity” studies that are largely self asessed – who in an environment where people are scared of losing their jobs are going to claim they are not productive?
And what is the economic impact of all the buildings that are supposedly going to be given up for WFH now going empty – the millions of people who are kept in employment through the operation of these buildings?

(3)(1)

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