Dentons lawyers share their experience of working at a firm that operates in 70 different countries
It’s fair to say that Dentons is unique. The firm has over 200 offices spanning 70 different countries, which makes it unsurprising that it “attracts a certain type of client that wouldn’t even consider most other firms”.
Its unrivalled global coverage is perfect, as partner and global chair for Dentons’ employment and labor practice Purvis Ghani explained at last month’s Legal Cheek event, for “clients that want everything under one roof and one brand”.
There’s also the added benefit for its lawyers of being able to work on some of the largest and most complex deals and regulatory challenges out there. Ghani gave the example of advising international businesses during the pandemic in relation to vaccination requirements, whilst real estate partner Laura Gowing cited working with an international hotel business and a European hostel brand as amongst her experience.
Corporate partner Jayne Schnider added that Dentons has the advantage of saving clients the stress and hassle of finding a legal adviser in each and every jurisdiction. This, of course, comes with a caveat: “it only works with an interconnected team”. So, how does Dentons achieve this?
Ghani delighted in telling attendees at the event how “you get to know and work with colleagues and clients from all around the world. It’s the most exciting part of the job!” He stressed that the firm’s high-level structure ensured this functioned effectively with opportunities to get to know colleagues at every level — from the team in London to members of the firm in other parts of the world.
On this point, Gowing noted:
“This ranges from going for lunch with a colleague, participating in the firm’s sports teams and having a department away-day to getting involved in our global academies and diversity and inclusion groups which collaborate internationally throughout the firm as a whole”.
Such social projects are taken very seriously at Dentons. The firm is looking to continue to make progress on gender and ethnic minority representation and wants to ensure that its lawyers feel well-supported.
Schnider remarked, “we want all our people to feel able to go on to be a partner”, explaining how a new pilot programme offering female members of the firm networking and mentoring opportunities aims to increase the proportion of women joining the partnership. “It’s really important to showcase how you can have, for example, a family and a great career and making members of the firm that have done that really visible will only encourage others to be more confident in putting themselves forward for new opportunities”.
“Pro bono is strongly encouraged too,” noted Gowing. She highlighted how Dentons offers one of the most incentivising policies on pro bono, allowing its associates to count up to 70 hours of pro bono work towards their bonuses. Pro bono and volunteering opportunities include everything from advising on leases to working with victims of domestic violence to getting up early to cook breakfast for the homeless.
What’s more, the firm now has an “impressive” hybrid experience that offers clients and the firm’s lawyers the flexibility to interact virtually. That said, Schnider underlined the importance of being able to “re-build the great team spirit that comes from being in the office”.
And Dentons trainees tend to have an interest in tech and innovation too — they complete an innovation project in each seat they encounter, yielding, according to Gowing, some handy tricks and tools that improve efficiency.
One interesting takeaway from the event was what the panel and audience thought were the most important skills lawyers need to thrive at a firm like Dentons. The overwhelming majority of attendees opted in our poll that was conducted at the event for people skills — something with which the panellists agreed: “having empathy, understanding people and being human can really help you when it comes to solving clients’ problems”.
But the Dentons partners also stressed the importance of commercial knowledge, noting that whilst developing a high level of legal knowledge was expected during the training contract, “a lot of what we do is not just about law, so having a sense of what’s going on in the world and the economy is really useful”.
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