Dentons has kicked off another fantastically entertaining spat with American Lawyer Magazine.
Last year the firm announced that it wouldn't publish its global profits per equity partner figure
. It said that any such figure would be meaningless given that Dentons operates a verein structure in both emerging and mature markets. AM Lawyer pointed out that other firms operate the same structure in the same markets and provide their figures, and that Dentons' reticence was simply down to the fact that its figures were pisspoor. So it had a stab at coming up with them anyway.
The firm went mental. Open letters were written, huffy statements were published
claiming that the editor of AM Lawyer couldn't count. But AM Lawyer clearly found its bovvered bag empty, because it did the same thing again on Monday. Dentons may have trumpeted its fantastic year in the US, it said, but by AM Lawyer's maths the firm's global PEP figure was $495,000. Absolutely at the arse end of the top 100 firms and 10% down on the previous year.
Again, the firm went ballistic. Mike McNamara, US Managing Partner, sent out a "correction demand
" yesterday saying that AM Lawyer's methodology was "mystefying
" and that it had "created
" numbers that were "clearly false
". Although he refused to provide the correct ones. AM Lawyer said it stood by its figures. Another open letter will presumably be sent out later today. Crack out the popcorn.
The only other major firm not to release its figures is Slaughter and May. I know a bit about the City legal market, and I'm going to peg Slaughters' profits per partner last year at £1.8m. Somehow I doubt that I'll now get a furious email demanding that I take this figure down, or that Chris Saul will write an open letter accusing me of not knowing my arse from a hole in the ground. If you don't want to play the game, accept that others will play it anyway.
Much of Dentons will be cringing at its belligerent stance. It certainly hasn't come from London. Matthew Jones, who is stepping down as CEO, is
thoroughly decent, sensible and intelligent. His predecessor Howard
Morris is one of the nicest men in the world. I haven't met the new chap
yet but by all accounts he is cut from the same cloth. They would never
sanction anything as crass as this. And how will the 6,000 Chinese lawyers Dentons has recently swallowed up take
the loss of face that will inevitably result from a petty
fight with the media, very publicly played out, which the firm cannot win?
This will have been the decision of a handful of senior, aggressive US partners who demand deference bordering on sycophancy from all around them. Brioni suits with square jaws and names like Mitch Humpngrind III, shouting like Lear in the storm, unable to believe that anyone might dare disagree with them.
I have sympathy with firms being wary of PEP. It's a figure that can be easily manipulated and is a clumsy indicator of a
firm's success. But this is just lunacy and it's not the way to fight the cause.
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