Continued expansion eyed as Norton Rose Fulbright merger takes effect

Continued global expansion in Latin America, including places like Brazil, remains on the agenda even as the Norton Rose Group’s merger with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP took effect yesterday.

That’s according to the managing partner of the group’s newly merged Canadian entity, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, as it added a U.S. presence through Fulbright & Jaworski’s 750 lawyers. While Fulbright & Jaworski already has substantial business in Latin America, it didn’t have offices there, says John Coleman of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada. Norton Rose, of course, already had a physical presence in places like Venezuela and the newly merged firm hopes to add to that, he says in detailing “another piece of the puzzle coming together” with the new U.S. footprint.

The latest move caps a series of changes expanding Norton Rose’s global reach, including the addition of the former Ogilvy Renault LLP and Macleod Dixon LLP in Canada in 2011 and 2012. The merger with Fulbright & Jaworski gives the firm 3,800 lawyers with offices in more than 50 cities around the world. The expansion, according to Coleman, is a response to client demands.

“These mergers aren’t done because managing partners enjoy doing these things,” he says, noting the globalized nature of business means companies are looking for firms that can help them wherever they happen to be.

In terms of concrete changes, the expanded firm’s executive committee will included an additional Canadian member, Jane Caskey of the firm’s Toronto office. The other Canadians on the 20-member global executive committee are Coleman, Bill Tuer of Calgary, and Toronto’s Michael Lang.

Other changes include a focus on global regulation and investigations given the added strength in that area that Fulbright & Jaworski brings, says Coleman. Companies, he notes, are increasingly looking for advice on what they can and can’t do around the world in terms of things like antitrust, tax, anticorruption, and labour matters, and the focus on global regulation and investigations will bring together existing practice teams involved in that area.

“This gives us a leg up in that area of practice,” says Coleman.

In addition, health care will be a key area as the firm combines Fulbright & Jaworski’s strengths with Norton Rose’s pharmaceutical and life sciences practices, he adds.

“It just adds another dimension,” he says. “We’ll be able to offer more to our clients around the world.”

The firms first announced the marriage last November. With the merger, it’s touting its key industry strengths in the areas of financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining, and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and health care.

“We have an exciting future ahead,” said Peter Martyr, global chief executive of Norton Rose Fulbright.

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