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Latest Scottish legal merger

Maclays acquired by global law firm Dentons

Kenneth Shand

Kenneth Shand

Scottish law firm Maclay Murray & Spens announced today that it is being acquired by Dentons, the world’s largest legal practice.

The combination, which is expected to complete this year, will have 800 fee earners in the UK, including 200 partners, operating from offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Milton Keynes and Watford. 

Kenneth Shand, chief executive of Maclay Murray & Spens, said: “Joining forces with the world’s largest law firm is tremendously exciting for us.”

The Maclay Murray & Spens name will disappear and the firm will operate under the Dentons brand. 

The deal follows Maclay’s long flirtation with Addleshaw Goddard which eventually acquired HBJ Gateley.

Dentons’ global chief executive Elliott Portnoy said: “This combination will significantly enhance our scale and capabilities in the UK.

“Combining with strong, independent and well-established firms is central to Dentons’ ‘in and of the community’ ethos, and with its rich history in the Scottish market Maclay Murray & Spens fits very much into this category.

“Following soon after our recent combinations with equally high-quality firms in Latin America and the Netherlands, this development accelerates Dentons’ momentum as we continue our journey ‘from largest to leading.’

During 2016/17 Dentons consolidated its position as the largest law firm in the world by combining with firms in Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama and Singapore, and launching new offices in Munich, Oakland, Rome, Tbilisi, and Watford. The firm has over 8,700 lawyers in more than 60 countries.

Maclay Murray & Spens is one of the largest and longest-established Scottish legal firms. It was founded in Glasgow in 1871 and was the first commercial law practice to be formed in Scotland.  

The merger will mean Maclay Murray & Spens is the latest Scottish brand to disappear following McGrigors, Dundas & Wilson and Henderson Boyd Jackson.

Maclay’s talks with Addleshaw Goddard were terminated in February and the Scottish firm said at the time it was not in discussions with any other practice.

Comment: Are law firm mergers good or bad for Scotland? 

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