Biglaw, Law Firm Mergers

Law Firm Merger Mania: SNR Denton Is Down With Three-Ways

When we last checked in with SNR Denton back in May, the firm had just finished wiping its hands of a potential merger with Dewey, right before the failed firm’s LeBoeuf was officially cooked. But from what we know, SNR had the urge to merge with another firm since at least February. The firm’s desire to seduce another suitor has gone unsatisfied for almost a year, but it now appears that SNR Denton may finally have the chance to get its rocks off.

Today, we’ve got news that the firm plans to get down with not one, but two firms. Ooh la la! Which firms is SNR Denton wooing, and when is the merger set to take place, if approved? Let’s check out the details on this potential ménage à trois….

It seems that SNR Denton, a firm that was itself born of a merger between Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and U.K. firm Denton Wilde Sapte in 2010, is looking to hook up with international firm Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain. Partners at the trio of firms will reportedly vote on their new bed partners at the end of the month, with the merger set to be finalized in early 2013. If all goes according to plan, we could be looking at a gigantic, global mega-firm.

At present, SNR’s got about 1,250 attorneys on hand, compared to Salans’s ranks of more than 750, and FMC’s team of more than 500 lawyers. That adds up to about 2,500 attorneys, enough to rival some of the top-ranking Biglaw firms in terms of headcount. If only we could say the same thing about this threesome’s revenues. In August, when talks between SNR and Salans were delayed due to FMC’s involvement, a source close to the potential merger noted, “Neither brand’s so strong – that’s the joke of it. It’s two weak firms.”

But how “weak” are we talking? Here are the numbers, courtesy of Legal Week:

SNR Denton . . . reported combined revenues of $712m (£443m) for the 2011-12 financial year, which combined with Salans’ 2011 turnover of $287m (£179m) would create a firm worth around just under $1bn (£622m) excluding the Canadian firm.

The firms may be “weak” alone (SNR Denton recently ranked at No. 43 on Am Law’s Global 100), but those revenues combined would put the threesome just outside of the Am Law Global 100’s top 20 Biglaw firms, and we don’t even know what FMC’s revenues were last year. Also on this front, it’s rumored the combined firm will be structured as a Swiss verein, which will allow the three to merge without integrating their finances. The two top-grossing U.S. firms, Baker & McKenzie and DLA Piper, also operate under the verein model.

Enough about money. Who’s going to wind up running this bad boy? The Lawyer has more information:

SNR Denton global CEO Elliott Portnoy is being tipped to run the overall group, while senior Salans figures such as global managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk and New York-based global board chairman François Chateau are expected to take positions on a senior management committee.

As we all know, law firm layoffs often follow law firm mergers, and according to SNR Denton’s Career Center profile, the firm has a “mercenary culture.” Let’s hope that Portnoy, who’s been described as a “dynamic and ambitious go-getter” (read: cutthroat lobbying litigator), isn’t so quick to slim down his new empire.

Readers: any thoughts on a possible merger between SNR Denton, Salans, and FMC? Do you see it as a promising union? Or do you take a dimmer view? Feel free to discuss in the comments. If you have particularly juicy tidbits, please send them to us directly via email or text (646-820-8477). Thanks.

SNR, Salans and Canada’s FMC set for triple merger under Dentons brand [Legal Week]
SNR Denton and Salans prepare to seal three-way deal with Canada’s FMC [The Lawyer]
SNR Denton Reportedly Set to Vote on Three-Way Merger [ABA Journal]

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