find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Dacheng, Dentons merger a wake-up call for Aus firms

Dacheng, Dentons merger a wake-up call for Aus firms

Dacheng Dentons merger Ted Dwyer

The merger of global firm Dentons and Beijing-based Dacheng, creating the world’s largest law firm, is a sign of things to come, an international legal consultant has claimed.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Ted Dwyer (pictured) of Dwyer Consulting said the market will witness more mega-mergers involving Chinese firms, which will impact on how well Australian firms can compete in the Asia-Pacific market.

“This is the first phase of a whole reinvention of the legal landscape globally; a wake-up call to Australian firms about where the market is heading,” he said.

The new firm, known as Dentons outside China and 大成 (Dacheng) in Chinese, will have more than 6,500 lawyers in more than 50 countries, overtaking Baker & McKenzie as the largest law firm globally.

Bakers has around 4,300 lawyers worldwide.

Foreign law firms and lawyers are not permitted to practise in China and can only provide advice on overseas law. Many Australian firms have shaped informal alliances with Chinese firms in order to act in matters involving local law.

However, Dwyer said these alliances cannot compete against merged firms like Dentons or King & Wood Mallesons, which entered the Chinese market via a merger in 2012.

Firms that aspire to be major players in the Asia-Pacific must have a bricks and mortar presence in China, he continued.

“Firms can’t sit navel-gazing; you may get the odd piece of work with an informal regional alliance or as a local specialist, but to succeed you must have a physical presence in China and other key Asia-Pacific markets,” Dwyer said.


Risky business

Dentons uses a Swiss verein structure, which allows for separate regional profit pools while the firm can still share strategy, branding and other core functions.

The arrangement has raised questions about how well Chinese firms work with western partners.

While Dwyer maintained that the merger will serve Dentons well, allowing the firm to embed itself in a lucrative and growing market, he warned that there are “big cultural barriers to overcome”.

He claimed that a successful merger requires full cultural assimilation and a thorough understanding of the nuances of doing business in China on the part of the western firm.

“You can’t expect the Chinese partnership to view the word merger in the same way the west does – Chinese lawyers are usually paid by a percentage of their billings; partners are not known for sharing clients and do not tend to refer work,” he said, adding that this may not necessarily occur in the case of Dentons, but it should be considered by all firms entering the Chinese market.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Dacheng, Dentons merger a wake-up call for Aus firms
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...