Kiwi law firm Kensington Swan is to become part of global giant Dentons in a deal that will give it international reach.

Kensington Swan, which has around 120 legal staff and is the fifth largest law firm in New Zealand will change its name to Dentons Kensington Swan from February joining the network which already has 10,000 lawyers and 17,000 staff globally.

The deal will see no money change hands with Kensington Swan remaining in the ownership of its partners.

Hayden Wilson, a partner at Kensington Swan, said the New Zealand regulator required New Zealand law firms to be owned and run by New Zealand registered lawyers.


"The point of the combination is that it will provide a one firm experience for clients."

That means Kensington Swan's clients will be able to tap into Dentons' lawyers anywhere in the world and likewise Dentons' clients who want to do business in New Zealand will go through Kensington Swan.

Wilson said it was approached by Dentons to do the deal.

"Dentons has expanded quite significantly in the last few years."

Since entering the Australasian region in 2016 with offices in Australia and Papua New Guinea, Dentons has been named the fastest growing law firm in Australia, opening offices in all of the major Australian markets and growing lawyer ranks by 25 per cent, in the last 12 months.

Elliot Portnoy, global chief executive of Dentons, said its desire to expand its presence in Australasia was client-driven.

"Clients have explicitly identified the New Zealand market as a priority and this combination would see the firms able to meet client needs both in New Zealand and around the globe."

As well as the global reach Wilson said it hoped to be able to tap into Dentons' technology and innovation.


The company had its own legal technology incubator and venture capital arm which enabled it to develop its own systems.

Wilson said that would be an advantage heading into the future as the law was getting more and more complicated while clients were looking to technology to make legal advice more affordable.

"This will give us a real advantage in the New Zealand market," he said.

Kensington Swan's partners have already voted to approve the deal and Dentons' partners globally are voting on it now with results expected in a fortnight.

The firm will then notify the Law Society of the name change closer to its implementation.