Summer Martin
Summer Martin ()

Dentons has recruited a health care partner and associate from McKenna Long & Aldridge, a little more than three months after merger talks between the two firms fell through.

Undeterred, Dentons is forging ahead in an effort to build an office in Atlanta, where McKenna Long is headquartered. Summer Martin joined the firm as a partner on March 1, bringing an associate, Rebecca Merrill.

McKenna Long called off the merger during a partnership vote on Nov. 26 because a substantial minority of partners balked at the idea of becoming part of a global megafirm. Dentons was formed a year ago by a three-way tie up between SNR Dentons in the United States, British-based Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, creating a roughly 2,600-lawyer firm with offices worldwide.

“We obviously had efforts throughout last year and will continue this year in growing Atlanta,” said Dentons’ U.S. managing partner, Mike McNamara. “Growth in the Southeast and the Atlanta market, which is important in the global economy, remain at the top of our list.”

“We are taking steps to do that,” McNamara said. “In addition to Summer, we have other conversations ongoing in the Atlanta market.”

Asked whether the plan is to develop an Atlanta office through lateral hires or an acquisition, McNamara said Dentons is “open to any number of possibilities.”

The firm is looking for lawyers who are “a fit because of their practice focus and the benefits to be gained from having not only a much larger U.S. platform but also 70 locations around the world,” he said.

Dentons established a one-man Atlanta outpost at the beginning of 2012 with David Klein, who practices hospitality law. Klein joined predecessor firm SNR Dentons from Advaya Hospitality, an Atlanta-based hotel joint venture between an Indian hotelier, Auromatrix Hotels, and John Russell, the former CEO of NYLO Hotels. Klein was a principal, chief administrative officer and general counsel.

Dentons is considering a range of practice areas for Atlanta, McNamara said, including transactional, litigation, regulatory, financial services, energy and energy-related fields, and health care.

The firm has an office near Vinings at 3350 Riverwood Parkway. McNamara said Dentons is talking to a real estate broker about office space options but has not yet determined how much square footage it seeks.

McNamara said Dentons came to know Martin through work for a mutual client. “It was a good fit for both sides.”

He declined to say whether Dentons is talking to other McKenna Long lawyers. “We have lots of friends at McKenna. We think highly of them—and highly of Summer.”

Two other firms whose merger talks fell through last fall, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, agreed to a one-year moratorium on poaching partners, but Dentons and McKenna Long made no such agreement, the Daily Report’s sibling publication Am Law Daily reported at the time.

“We have enjoyed working with Summer Martin and Rebecca Merrill and we wish them well as they continue their work at their new firm,” said a McKenna Long spokesperson in an email.

Martin said she was attracted to Dentons’ national health care regulatory practice and its global platform, along with the opportunity to help grow a regional office.

“From the course of the conversations, we got to know each other well. We had some shared client work and there was mutual respect within the group,” she said.

Martin advises clients on federal regulatory law and health care-related transactional matters, such as the structuring of business ventures, professional services agreements and the acquisition and disposition of health care facilities.

She declined to name clients but said they are primarily health care providers such as hospitals, physicians, medical device suppliers and clinical researchers engaged in human subject research.

A global platform could be useful for clients such as medical device manufacturers who want to expand into markets outside the United States or bring products here, Martin said.

Martin joined McKenna Long in 2007 from Powell Goldstein (now Bryan Cave) as part of a group of six partners doing work for Northside Hospital, formerly an institutional client of Powell Goldstein.