After just four months of planning and work, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and U.K.-based Denton Wilde Sapte have merged to officially become SNR Denton. The new firm, which went live today, has roughly 1,250 lawyers in 48 offices worldwide and estimated annual revenues of $750 million.
Based on figures from the The National Law Journal’s sibling publication The American Lawyer, SNR Denton is now the 25th largest firm in the world when measuring by headcount.
Elliott Portnoy, who previously chaired Sonnenschein and is now co-CEO of SNR Denton, said the union was made easier because the two legacy firms did not have offices in overlapping cities. He said that meant that the firm didn’t have to address questions of how to address multiple leases or how to decide who would move in with whom. “We didn’t have to go through many of the tussles that other large combinations have seen when trying to bring two firms together,” Portnoy said.
Joining Portnoy as co-CEO is Howard Morris, who previously served as CEO of Denton. Joseph Andrew, who comes from the Sonnenschein side of the merger, and Martin Kitchen, who comes from the Denton side, now serve as chairmen of the new firm.
Portnoy said the combination was also eased by the fact that both firms had shifted their practices to align with industry sectors as opposed to more traditional law firm practices. Those sectors are energy, transport and infrastructure; financial institutions and funds; government, health and life sciences; insurance; manufacturing; real estate, retail and hotels; and technology, media and telecommunications. “We found that our sector alignment was virtually identical to theirs,” Portnoy said.
To bring the two firms together, Portnoy said sector group leaders from both sides of the deal implemented 100-day plans designed to address a number of issues, including compensation and branding.
For compensation, which is often a key factor in determining whether a large-scale merger will work, especially when bringing together firms from either side of the Atlantic, Portnoy said that SNR Denton opted for a more U.S.-style merit-based model as opposed to the lockstep model that is common among U.K.-based firms. But Portnoy stressed that changes were made to both firms’ compensation models to “create a new, unified model.”
The SNR Denton brand and marketing materials was created entirely anew, Portnoy said, and outside professionals were brought in to develop a brand that was unique to the new firm. “It looks like neither of the old identities,” he said.
Portnoy said that lawyers from both sides of the merger are already working together on “dozens” of client matters. While he wouldn’t name specific clients that both firms counted in their books of business, Portnoy said there were a number of clients in the financial and investment banking sectors that overlapped.
As for whats next for the new firm, Portnoy said SNR Denton will continue to focus on growth. Just last week, Sonnenschein added six new partners to its offices in Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington.
“We want to continue expanding our footprint into markets where we didn’t previously have a presence and to continue adding depth to the markets where we do have offices,” Portnoy said.