10 Feb 2020

Dentons' global march continues as it unveils Kensington Swan arm in New Zealand

Global giant adds another 130 lawyers to its network; becoming only third international firm in New Zealand

Auckland skyline

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Dentons has officially opened for business in New Zealand, adding two offices to its burgeoning international network and becoming only the second global law firm with a presence in the jurisdiction.

The firm’s New Zealand practice will operate under the Dentons Kensington Swan brand after the global giant agreed to combine with New Zealand firm Kensington Swan last August.

The deal adds 30 partners and 100 other lawyers to Dentons’ network, working out of offices in Auckland and Wellington, putting the firm ahead of DLA Piper by headcount - it has around 80 New Zealand lawyers on its books.

However, the pair remain dwarfed by Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, Australian firm Minter Ellison’s associated New Zealand arm, which has nearly 50 partners and around 250 lawyers in total.

The trio of internationally branded law firms all fall in New Zealand’s top 15 firms by headcount, which together account for 27% of all the country’s lawyers working in firms with more than one lawyer, according to the New Zealand Law Society.

Dentons entered the Australasian region in 2016 after merging with Australian firm Gadens.

It can now boast an eight-office Australasian network covering: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Port Morseby, in Papua New Guinea, alongside its two new New Zealand offices.

Doug Stipanicev, chief executive of Dentons' Australasia region, said: "Dentons has seen significant growth in the region since 2016 and with new offices in Auckland and Wellington Dentons is now a regional powerhouse who can provide clients with access to legal talent in all of the major Australasian markets."

David Campbell, chair of Dentons Kensington Swan's board, said the firm could now "offer clients access to innovative legal and business solutions in more of the markets where they do business around the globe".

Dentons' arrival in the market leaves New Zealeand's big three of Bell Gully, Chapman Tripp and Russell McVeagh retaining their independence.

Dentons Kensington Swan has a broad practice, according to Chambers and Partners' rankings: the firm is rated across 11 practice areas, although its tier one ranking is confined to investment funds, while it achieves a tier two ranking in construction and intellectual property.

It has already been a busy year for the expansionist firm. In January, it announced its long-awaited launch in Ireland, when it departed from its usual strategic play book by hiring two senior lawyers from rival firms and pledging to grow the office organically.

The firm has also promised a busy period of combinations in the US under ‘project golden spike’ – a strategy to build a network of regional US firms that will ultimately cover the entire US.

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