But on Monday, the global legal giant is set to announce a type of deal that has largely eluded the firm as of late: a combination with a U.S.-based firm.
Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, a shop with more than 40 lawyers based in Hawaii, will be the first domestic firm that Dentons has combined with in at least 18 months, according to Altman Weil MergerLine, which tracks law firm combinations.
The Hawaiian-based firm, which has offices in Honolulu and in Hilo, was first linked to Dentons in May 2017 via an “affiliation” that the firm at the time said made it the “first global law firm to have a significant presence in Hawai`i.” Dentons also said the Alston Hunt deal would “differentiate” its West Coast and California practices, particularly for clients viewing Hawaii as a hub into Asian markets.
Mike McNamara, a member of Dentons’ global management committee and a Washington, D.C.-based U.S. CEO of the firm, said that within the past year Dentons saw a surprising amount of interest by clients and lawyers from across its U.S. offices in working with Alston Hunt. So far, he said, both firms have shared 65 clients.
Alston Hunt co-founder Paul Alston added that the link to Dentons had made his firm more attractive to global businesses in Hawaii. Alston Hunt is ranked as a Band 1 firm in the state for general litigation. Shortly after the alliance between his firm and Dentons was announced last year, Alston said a publicly traded company inquired about how Dentons lawyers could help with legal issues in Italy and China.
That prompted Jeffrey Haidet, an Atlanta-based U.S. chairman at Dentons who once served as chairman of McKenna Long & Aldridge, which Dentons absorbed in mid-2015, to fly to Hawaii to help put together legal teams in those geographies for the unnamed client.
“It really has been a relationship that has just taken off dramatically,” said Alston, adding that a combination with Dentons was his goal since the alliance was announced last year.
Dentons has been one of the most active firms in the law firm deal market over the past few years. In early March, Dentons announced seven combinations at once, adding firms from the Caribbean, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Mauritius into its global network. Later that same month, Dentons absorbed 17 partners from dissolving midsize Australian firm DibbsBarker.
Those moves came on the heels of a particularly acquisitive 2017, a year in which Dentons absorbed firms in Barbados, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Peru, Scotland, Uganda and Uzbekistan. McNamara said Dentons hopes to announce more combinations with domestic firms in the coming months.
“We’re hoping that this is the first of what will be many combinations of similar size and focus here,” McNamara said. “Just as we’ve done globally and around the Pacific [we’d like] to really grow here in the U.S.”