Dentons expanding reach into Iowa

Dentons is continuing its Project Golden Spike, an initiative to create a national U.S. law firm, by announcing Tuesday a combination with Davis Brown, one of the largest law firms in Iowa.

The combination with the Hawkeye State firm expands Dentons’ geographic footprint and strengthens its base in the Midwest. Within Iowa, Davis Brown has about 80 attorneys and three offices in West Des Moines, Ames and the largest in the Davis Brown Tower in downtown Des Moines. The firm offers a range of legal services in a number of practice areas including agribusiness, emerging businesses, health, immigration and intellectual property.

“We are excited about our combination with Dentons, as it dovetails precisely with our client-centric focus on the future of legal services,” said John Pietila, president of Davis Brown. “… Combined with our strengths as an Iowa law firm, the national and global reach of Dentons will provide additional opportunities and greater capabilities to solve our clients’ most complex problems.”

Project Golden Spike was launched in October 2019 when Dentons announced its combination with Bingham Greenebaum Doll. The blueprint for a national law firm was crafted by Joe Andrew, Dentons global chairman, and Bingham leaders in Indianapolis W. Tobin McClamroch and Keith Bice.

Also included in the initial launch of Dentons’ national law firm was Pittsburgh-based Cohen & Grigsby. And in August, Durham Jones & Pinegar in Utah combined with Dentons as part of Project Golden Spike.

“We are in a time of accelerated change and law firms, more than ever before, need to transform to meet and exceed the dynamic needs of clients,” said McClamroch, managing partner of Dentons’ United States Region. “Law firms around the U.S. see the benefits of our Golden Spike model and the combination with Davis Brown will continue our trajectory to better serve our clients’ needs across the 100 largest legal markets in the U.S.”

This year, the global pandemic and economic fallout has stalled law firm merger activity. Just 44 deals had been announced at the end of the third quarter, a significant drop from the explosive pace that shattered records with 106 and 115 combinations announced in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

However, in 2020, Dentons has announced 28 new offices around the world. The firm has 39 locations in the United States and 193 locations across 77 countries around the globe.

“We are delighted to be combining with Davis Brown in Iowa, a major financial services and insurance hub, and a key and growing market for our clients with Des Moines’ external legal spend exceeding that of the entire country of India,” said Elliott Portnoy, global CEO of Dentons. “Like Dentons, Davis Brown and its lawyers are repeatedly recognized for the quality of their legal service and their focus on inclusion and diversity and our combination means we can connect clients to leading talent in Iowa and in 77 countries around the world.”

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