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Dentons Australia chair on ‘investment in culture’

As the war for talent continues into 2023, the Dentons Australasia CEO and chair said the firm will prioritise culture and recruitment as part of its growth strategy.

user iconLauren Croft 05 January 2023 Big Law
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Doug Stipanicev is the Dentons Australia managing partner, chair and Australasia Region CEO. Speaking to Lawyers Weekly recently, he reflected on 2022 and the firm’s plans for this year.

“Dentons is on a major growth trajectory, and we are interested in making sure we have the right resources across all of our offices,” he said.

“We are looking to recruit at all levels within the firm, and have a particular focus on bringing in lateral partners, evidenced by the eight laterals we have appointed since 1 July 2022.”

 
 

The partners of Dentons in Australia reappointed Mr Stipanicev for a third term in October last year, following four years of leadership.

Mr Stipanicev will now continue his current role for a further two years, with a target of doubling revenue in Australia across the next five years.

“Our target is to double the revenue of Dentons in Australia within the next five years, both through organic growth and lateral hiring. As the global and Australian economies move into a more challenging financial cycle, there will be a natural pullback in a number of areas, but others will continue to grow, such as technology, construction, financial services, regulation, data and cyber security and ESG,” he said.

“As an example of responding to these, Dentons recently launched our Global Compliance and Investigations group, focused on a business-centric, solution-oriented and multi-disciplinary approach to compliance and investigations, providing clients with access to legal, strategic consultancy, and in-house former intelligence personnel.”

The firm’s specialised global compliance and investigations (GCI) practice in Australia is headed up by partner Ben Allen and reflects clients’ growing demand for guidance in the areas of data privacy, greenwashing, modern slavery and corporate governance.

However, Mr Stipanicev said there were a number of other challenges on the horizon for the legal profession.

“With [the] conflict in Europe, inflation, ongoing supply chain issues and increased environmental regulation, businesses are confronted by uncertainty and change. Our profession has a strong track record of anticipating change and helping clients navigate and thrive through it,” he said.

“Key areas clients are looking to the profession for support and guidance through this economic cycle include Environment Social and Governance (ESG), industrial relations, compliance, finance and restructuring and mergers and acquisition.”

Despite this, Dentons experienced a number of wins over the course of 2022.

“Over the last 12 months, we've experienced substantial partner growth, attracting some great talent from other firms. We have had high profile client wins and have worked on some of the largest and most complex deals of the year, including advising Ardonagh group on its agreement to acquire Australian insurance firm Envest for $482 million,” Mr Stipanicev added.

“We’re also continuing to focus on our strength in D&I with programs such as Disability Inclusion at Dentons (DID) and our GLOW network for our LGBTI community helping D&I to be established as a key part of our strategy and identity.”

Moving forward, in addition to the demand for fee earners continuing to rise within firms, Mr Stipanicev said that diversity and inclusion, and the war for talent will remain key issues within BigLaw firms.

“Right now, we are seeing the war for talent across the whole of the legal sector. There is also some uncertainty around the state of the economy and all firms will have to balance these factors,” he said.

“At Dentons, we place a great deal of importance on diversity and inclusion (D&I) — with our recent staff engagement survey revealing just how diverse our firm has become. As a firm, we are great champions of D&I, and the legal profession plays a significant role in leading business and the broader community in this area.”

The firm will also continue to evolve post-pandemic, Mr Stipanicev concluded.

“As the world’s largest law firm, we are connected to the world’s trends. Most businesses have realised they don’t need all of their people in the office full-time to be productive and meet clients’ needs. Agile, hybrid working is an embraced part of Dentons’ culture and will continue to be. We have developed a culture of trust with our employees, and have found that the majority of our staff have selected a hybrid approach of office and working remotely,” he explained.  

“While Dentons is positioned strongly in the current environment, we are always prepared for changes in the economic cycle. Our investment in culture through and post-pandemic has resulted in employees who are motivated and prepared for the ever-changing environment.”