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Building Data, Best-Practice Ideas At Dentons' New Family Office Group

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , January 8, 2021

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One of the rising movers and shakers in the family offices and wealth management world, Edward Marshall, has already put a dent in the industry universe with research into the sector. From his new berth at law firm Dentons, he hopes to drive change. FWR recently chatted to Marshall about his approach.

Space to fill
“There is a big, white space in the legal world to service family offices more effectively. We can make a big difference [to that end] here given our global reach and insider expertise at the firm,” he said. “Family offices call their lawyer when they are contemplating a major decision or when they are facing a complex challenge. As such, law firms can be an integral part of a family’s growth and risk management plans.” 

“In contrast to other firms, we created this group to have a cross-functional team with diverse family office experience, totally focused on family offices and UHNW clients. We built it specifically to cater to the needs and motivations of this client segment and not as an ancillary part of a practice group,” he said.

Marshall said that family offices that engage with the Dentons team don’t have to dispense with their existing advisors. Some FOs have used the same advisors for years, decades even, and severing such links is difficult. 

The reason why
“Making the move to Dentons was an evolutionary process for me, and the firm.  Over my long career in the family office space, I’ve worked with lots of different law firms. Denton’s firm leadership really valued my years of experience in working with family offices and HNW individuals and embraced my approach as to how to leverage the firm’s vast resources and connectivity to best serve these families,” Marshall said. His new firm has more than 11,000 lawyers - that creates a lot of reach.

“I love working with these really smart lawyers from across the world who look at not just the 'what,' but more importantly, the `why’ and `how’ of family office. The internet and conferences are flooded with information on what family offices do, but practical knowledge based on hard data and real experience is sparse. Family offices are hungry for that real-world info…versus what they’ve grown accustomed to seeing in this space,” he said. 

“Often in the legal world, you will see a lot of law firms claim to have a lock on family office formation and structuring but I would recommend people do their homework and ask many questions: Are they set up to actively provide you with support against the numerous risks and threats you face (cyber, privacy, physical, insider threat, due diligence, financial, etc.)?” he said.




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