Norton Rose Fulbright agrees combination with Chadbourne & Parke


Norton Rose Fulbright has confirmed that it is to merge with Chadbourne & Parke, in a deal that creates a firm with combined revenues of just under $2bn (£1.61bn).

News of the merger talks broke earlier this month (2 February) after months of discussions, and the deal will go live in the second quarter of this year.

The merged firm will operate as Norton Rose Fulbright. Chadbourne, which operated as an independent firm for 115 years but had struggled recently with defections, will leave its name behind.

The combination creates a firm with around 1,000 lawyers in the US, including more than 300 in New York and around 130 in Washington DC. Globally, it will house more than 4,000 lawyers across 58 offices in 32 countries.

Norton Rose Fulbright posted global revenue of $1.74bn (£1.38bn) in 2015, with Chadbourne posting revenue of $249m (£198m).

The deal represents a second major US combination for Norton Rose following its deal with Texas-headquartered Fulbright & Jaworski in 2013. Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright’s global chief executive, said linking up with Chadbourne is the firm’s most significant merger since.

“Joining forces with our new colleagues, we can offer our clients significant new capabilities in New York and Washington DC,” Martyr said in a statement. “We will benefit from new offices in Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Istanbul, and we will be able to offer our clients expanded capabilities in London, Dubai, Latin America and other key markets.”

Daryl Lansdale, Norton Rose Fulbright’s San Antonio-based US managing partner, said the deal would also boost the firm’s Texas operations by adding lawyers in the financial center of New York and in DC, where regulatory work affects Texas clients in the energy sector and beyond. The firm will have about 450 lawyers in Texas, he said.

Lansdale said Chadbourne not only brings its energy practice to the merger, but is also “very deep” in project finance, infrastructure and other power projects that are important to the Texas market.

While nine Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers jumped to Baker Botts on the same day the Chadbourne merger was announced, Lansdale said he is not aware of any other groups moving out of Norton Rose Fulbright. “We’re doing this because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This will give us an opportunity to further expand and grow the firm,” he said.

Sources close to Chadbourne say the firm had approached firms including Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper and Hogan Lovells to discuss merger options during the past year, before agreeing its deal with Norton Rose.

The firm has seen a stream of partner exits in recent months, with those in the past year including corporate and project finance partner Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja, who joined Baker McKenzie last month; a three-partner arbitration team who joined Cooley last December; and bankruptcy partner Douglas Deutsch, who joined Clifford Chance last summer.

Norton Rose has grown through a succession of major international combinations. It joined up with Australian firm Deacons in 2010, then in 2011 with Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault and leading South African firm Deneys Reitz. These were followed by a second Canadian tie-up with Calgary’s Macleod Dixon in 2012. More recently, it inked a deal with Vancouver-based firm Bull Housser & Tupper last month.

In November, it was widely reported that the firm held merger talks with Australia’s Henry Davis York.

Additional reporting by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys.