Feb 21 Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright
announced on Tuesday it would merge with New York-based
Chadbourne & Parke to form a firm of some 4,000 lawyers with
offices in 32 countries.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter and the
combined firm will use the Norton Rose Fulbright name.
It is the latest merger for London-based Norton Rose
Fulbright, already one of the world’s largest law firms with
about 3,700 lawyers. The current firm is the result of
successive mergers, most notably a 2013 tie-up with the former
Texas firm Fulbright & Jaworski.
Mergers in the legal industry have been on the rise since
the 2008 financial crisis amid stagnant demand and intense
competition. There were 85 law firm mergers and acquisitions in
2016, according to a report by the legal consulting firm Altman
Weil, down just slightly from a record high of 91 in 2015.
Chadbourne is best-known for advising banks on project
finance deals around the world. The firm also has a
well-regarded litigation department led by Abbe Lowell, who
represented Democratic members of Congress during President Bill
Clinton's 1999 impeachment hearings.
Chadbourne and Norton Rose have “complementary practices,"
said Daryl Lansdale, Norton Rose’s managing partner for the
Americas. Both firms represent energy companies and advise on
deals in Latin America.
Among clients the two firms both represent are Deutsche Bank
AG , Banco Santander SA and French energy
company Engie SA.
The merger will also give Norton Rose a larger presence in
New York, where many of Chadbourne's lawyers are based.
Legal industry consultant Jon Lindsey of Major Lindsey &
Africa said law firms are facing economic pressure as large
corporations bring more legal work in-house or outsource to
cheaper alternative service providers.
In such an environment, mergers are attractive to many
firms, Lindsey said. Big firms are better able to withstand
drops in demand in particular areas and are also able to afford
the global presence clients increasingly demand, he said.
Chadbourne has seen its revenue drop substantially in recent
years as high-profile partners have left for other firms,
according to data from The American Lawyer, a trade magazine.
Norton Rose Fulbright had $1.732 billion in global revenue
in its most recent fiscal year, a 3 percent decrease from the
year before. In a June 2016 statement, the firm blamed the drop
in revenue on exchange rate fluctuations.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Tom Brown)