The partnerships of Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge are set to vote within the next two weeks on a proposed tie-up that, if approved, would create the world’s third-largest law firm in terms of attorney head count, representatives on both sides confirmed late Tuesday.
“The boards of Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have recommended to their partners that the firms combine, subject to the approval of their respective partnerships,” the two firms said in a joint statement. “The voting procedures will follow the protocols of each firm and will be completed no later than Nov. 14, 2013.”
The confirmation of the looming partner votes comes roughly a month after The Am Law Daily was the first to report, on Sept. 30, that the two Am Law 100 firms were exploring the possibility of combining. It also comes just days after two other Am Law 100 firms, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, confirmed that they are discussing a possible merger, and shortly after Am Law 100 firm Cooley absorbed most of former Am Law 200 firm Dow Lohnes.
With the approval of the two boards secured, it appears likely that the proposed union of Dentons and McKenna Long—which is likely to become effective Jan. 1—will garner the partner support necessary to proceed, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Phone calls and emails to Dentons global CEO Elliott Portnoy and global chair Joseph Andrews, as well as to McKenna Long managing partner T. Mark Flanagan Jr., were not immediately returned Tuesday night.
As it happens, next week will mark the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Dentons predecessor firm SNR Denton that it was joining forces with Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain and European firm Salans. That three-way combination—which operates under the Swiss verein structure, meaning the component firms’ finances are not fully integrated—went live in March.
A merger between Dentons and McKenna Long would create a firm with roughly 3,100 lawyers, which, according to The American Lawyer’s most recent Global 100 rankings, would be the world’s third-largest, behind only DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie.
SNR Denton, the larger of the two firms, saw its gross revenue remain largely flat at $710.5 million last year, while its profits per equity partner increased 12.1 percent, to $785,000, according to The American Lawyer’s most recent Am Law 100 reporting. McKenna Long, meanwhile, enjoyed a 23.4 percent surge in gross revenue in 2012, taking in $345 million, while the firm’s profits per partner dipped 3.6 percent, to $930,000.
While no one has yet said what the combined entity will be called, there is evidence to suggest that several possibilities are being weighed.
A search of the WhoIs.com domain registry shows that on Sept. 30, the day the firms confirmed that they were eyeing a possible combination, the following URLs were purchased: dentonsmckenna.com; dentonsmla.com; mckennadentons.com; mladenton.com; and mladentons.com. The contact listed in each instance is Dentons general counsel John Koski.
One name apparently not under consideration: McDentons, which was still available as of Tuesday night.