Dentons…ONLINE!: Multinational law firm Dentons moves two UK offices entirely online

July 17, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm by number of lawyers and 6th largest in terms of revenue, has announced it will be closing two of its UK offices in favour of remote working.

What does this mean?

Denton’s announced on Friday 10 July 2020 that they were permanently closing both their Aberdeen and Watford offices. This move will see their partners and current associates stay on with the firm, working entirely from home or with the ability to go into the Edinburgh and Milton Keynes offices in person if they need to.

What's the big picture effect?

Along with the majority of stories at the moment, the obvious overarching importance of this story is linked to the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

As all other businesses were forced to earlier this year, law firms also had to move to remote working for a period of nearly 3 months. During this time, Dentons realised that the massive benefits of remote working far outweighed the downsides. Lisa Sewell, the managing director of Dentons UK, Ireland and Middle East, said in a statement that “we have seen far less use of paper, more self-service and confidence using new technology and no drop in productivity or service levels despite teams not being co-located 100% of the time”. Alongside this announcement Dentons stated they had no plans to currently close any other UK offices, however they would be keen to re-evaluate their London office when the lease is up for review in 2025.

This announcement can be seen in one of two ways. At face value, it would seem that a forward-thinking and multinational firm such as Dentons are looking to maximise their efficiency by closing offices which have remained productive during lockdown. The massive savings the firm will make on no longer leasing and running the two offices may allow Dentons to become more competitively priced, or to increase salaries. Both of these moves would have obvious benefits for both clients and Dentons’ employees, making the firm more attractive as a whole. However, the move could also be viewed through the lens of the overall downward trend of the economy as a result of the pandemic, and coupled with Dentons postponing the opening of their Dublin office, could point to a pragmatic move to ensure the firm’s revenue and profit numbers stay high. With Slater & Gordon announcing in early May that they would move to a smaller London office, and CMS setting up a “Future Working Group” to establish what parts of remote working can be employed going forwards, it will be interesting to see how firms continue to respond and adapt.

Report written by Hari Majumdar

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