Dentons has suspended a male partner in response to allegations of inappropriate behavior.
The firm has launched an internal investigation into the claims, which refer to alleged actions by the unidentified partner when he was at legacy Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens, which was absorbed into Dentons last year.
About 62 partners from Maclay Murray joined Dentons as part of that deal, the latest in a series of combinations by the Global 100 firm. The partner in question has been put on leave of absence and will not return the office while the investigation is carried out. Dentons confirmed the matter in a statement.
“Last week we became aware that reports of inappropriate behaviour were made against a Maclay Murray & Spens partner about 15 months ago, more than a year before its merger with Dentons,” the firm said. “No formal complaint was made at the time or has been made subsequently, but we now understand the partner was warned about his future conduct.”
A Dentons spokesperson said the firm was taking the reports “very seriously,” but noted that it would have “no further comment until the investigation has concluded and all parties have been informed of the outcome.”
RollOnFriday, a website that covers the U.K. legal industry, first reported the news about the unidentified Dentons partner.
The news comes after research by London-based Legal Week found that nearly two-thirds of female lawyers in the U.K. have experienced some form of sexual harassment while working in a law firm, with 51 percent claiming to have experienced it on more than one occasion.
After that story, a number of female lawyers spoke anonymously with Legal Week about their experiences of sexual harassment in the legal profession. (Sexual harassment and misconduct also remains an issue the U.S. legal profession, whether in Big Law or the court system.)
In December, the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wrote to all five Magic Circle firms to warn them that it could take legal action if they fail to take appropriate action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Those firms were given until Jan. 19 to respond to the EHRC.
As for Dentons, the firm picked up Scottish offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow through its combination with Maclay Murray, and now has more than 800 lawyers in the U.K. The suspension of the unidentified partner comes almost a month after a former Dentons recruitment manager, Bina Hale, won a sex discrimination case against the firm after it reportedly fired her when she was on maternity leave.