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Dentons aiming to double revenue in Australia in 5 years

EXCLUSIVE: Following the global firm’s “historic” collaboration in India, as well as numerous lateral partner hires, the Australian chair of Dentons is looking to achieve significantly bolstered revenue in the country.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 18 October 2022 Big Law
Dentons aiming to double revenue in Australia in 5 years
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Last week, Dentons unveiled a combination with full-service Indian legal practice Link Legal, which the BigLaw player says marks the first time a global law firm has combined with an Indian firm.

Elliott Portnoy, the global chief executive for Dentons, said at the time: “This historic combination will allow Dentons to connect clients to leading talent in India and provide a seamless one-firm experience in more than 200 locations around the globe.”

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Dentons Australian chair and Australasian regional chief executive Doug Stipanicev (pictured) discussed the firms’ growth trajectory in Australia, on the back of the Indian collaboration, and how it — and recent partner appointments — puts Dentons’ Australian arm on the path to double its revenue in the next five years.

 
 

India, he reflected, is “on our doorstep” and likely to be the most populous country on Earth within the next decade. The collaboration with Link Legal, he said, will give lawyers at the firm “a first look into the companies and businesses in India that will start to look to exporting their wares throughout Australasia”.

There are not very many places in the world that a global client would want to invest in that Dentons cannot offer services for, Mr Stipanicev proclaimed, noting that the firm is up to 216 offices across 83 countries.

“The Dentons model is polycentric. It’s a combination of successful firms in each of the jurisdictions before. We don’t go somewhere, stick up a flag, open an office, populate it with a couple of partners out of London and hope that it’s successful,” he explained.

“All of the combinations that Dentons has done — and there are about 55 of them since its inception — have been combinations into the global firm or firms that were already successful and already well known within their market, and, in fact, were in and of the community in their market and respected legal advisors already.

“So, it comes from a strong base for our clients. They can be serviced anywhere in the world by a firm that is in and of the community, understands the local law and understands the local customs in relation to doing business.”

Mr Stipanicev’s comments echo those of Baker McKenzie global chair Milton Cheng, who recently told Lawyers Weekly that the global law firm is only becoming more important, as globalisation isn’t going anywhere.

The Indian collaboration serves to support the firm’s Australian growth trajectory, Mr Stipanicev noted, which he described as a “heightened” approach in which the firm is building up the bench strength of its national footprint.

There are several lateral partner appointments coming, he said, constituting $14-15 million in new revenue. The firm’s Australian arm has added numerous partners recently and promoted multiple professionals to more senior roles: here, here and here.

Moreover, nearly half of the firm’s national revenue comes from financial institutions, and — as the firm sits on the legal services panels of all of the major banks — thus “sits in a prime seat to help banks both get money back and put money out, irrespective of the climate”.

Such developments will help the firm, Mr Stipanicev outlined, hit its aspirational target of 20 per cent revenue growth, year on year, over the next five years, including the current financial year.

Five years from now, he explained, the firm is “hoping to double the revenue of Dentons Australia from about $120 million” to well over $200 million.

“There’s a predominant lean within that to growth by lateral partner acquisition. But also in relation to our clients, there are strategic plans in place of itself to broaden our client base to go up the value chain with many of our clients and also to increase the share that we receive from our existing clients,” he said.

The firm, Mr Stipanicev went on, is “going through a very exciting time” in Australia.

“The business model that we’ve adopted, our global network, the success that we are having, both in relation to attracting clients, attracting quality staff and our profitability, creating very exciting times for us in Dentons Australia,” he said.

Law is one of those businesses, he mused, “where success itself perpetuates further success, more revenue over the cost base makes you more profitable, more profitable, stabilises your partnership, attracts more partners and on you go”.

“So, we’ve spent the last four years getting our business right, optimising our business for success. And we see ourselves — notwithstanding the huge success we’ve had in the last four years — as being at the starting blocks for what we expect to be able to achieve, and what we think we can achieve,” Mr Stipanicev said.

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