Eight-partner Norton Rose Fulbright Dubai team leaves for Baker Botts

Baker Botts has sealed the hire of a 14-lawyer team from Norton Rose Fulbright in the Middle East, including eight legacy Fulbright & Jaworski partners.

The team, which made up the bulk of legacy Fulbright’s operation in Dubai’s Festival City, includes corporate partner John Lonsberg, who helped to establish Fulbright’s presence in the Middle East when he joined the firm in 2005.

Lonsberg is joining Baker Botts alongside fellow Dubai partners Mark Bisch (finance), Jonathan Sutcliffe (disputes), Joseph Colagiovanni (disputes), Richard Devine (finance), Hassan Elsayed (corporate), Philip Punwar (financial institutions) and Riyadh partner Sam Eversman (finance), as well as five associates, a trainee and several support staff.

The partners, who join Baker Botts today (16 July), will be based across the US firm’s offices in Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The move comes after the merger of Norton Rose and US firm Fulbright went live at the beginning of June, creating a global top 10 giant with combined revenues of around $2bn (£1.3bn).

Norton Rose and Fulbright’s legacy Dubai practices are based in two separate offices in Dubai, operating with distinct profit pools. The UK limited liability partnership (LLP) is based in the Dubai International Financial Centre, with the US LLP working from Festival Tower. The move means the Festival Tower team has been left with one remaining partner – legacy Fulbright Dubai and Riyadh head John Boehm.

Baker Botts managing partner Andrew Baker said: “This team, considered ‘go-to’ choices for any business requiring legal counsel in the Middle East, has extensive experience in the region over a wide range of industry segments and practice areas that goes back for more than 30 years.”

Baker Botts international partner Jamie Baker added: “Over many years we have become familiar with John and several of his partners and their ability to successfully represent clients on transactions and disputes across the GCC countries. It was always clear that we share similar approaches to the practice of law.”

The hires bring Baker Botts’ Middle East lawyer count to 40. The firm has recently been moving to ramp up its presence in the region and earlier this year signed an alliance agreement with Kuwait’s International Legal Group.

Legacy Fulbright managing partner Kenneth Stewart said: “While our combined firms are highly complementary, any combination of organisations brings inevitable changes in leadership and responsibilities and some overlap, and we understand that not all individuals will embrace those changes.

“The overwhelming majority of our partners and clients are excited with our combination and the expanded global platform it provides. We wish our former partners in the Middle East our best.”

Norton Rose Fulbright now has approximately 50 Middle East-based lawyers spread across Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Riyadh.

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