Ex-Chadbourne group leaves Norton Rose Fulbright for Winston & Strawn in New York

Winston & Strawn has hired 10 partners in New York from Norton Rose Fulbright, just weeks after Norton Rose cemented its merger with the group’s former firm, Chadbourne & Parke.

The group is led by corporate lawyers Talbert Navia and Allen Miller, who were co-heads of the Latin America practice at Chadbourne. The group also includes Julissa Reynoso, Mort Grosz, Beth Kramer, Scott Naidech, Sey-Hyo Lee, Claude Serfilippi, Kevin Smith and Marcelo Blackburn.

All 10 are now partners at Winston, having previously been partners at Chadbourne, with the exception of Blackburn, who was counsel.

Winston chairman Tom Fitzgerald said the lawyers were “concerned about a number of conflicts” that would limit their practice as a result of the merger, which was finalised on 30 June.

Winston said the group works with Latin America-based corporate and private equity clients, US-based clients involved in Latin America, and clients in the Iberian Peninsula.

The lawyers focus on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, financings, private equity and fund formation, joint ventures, corporate reorganisations, and international arbitration and litigation.

Winston intends to hire associates to support their practice. Fitzgerald declined to say whether other lawyers from Norton Rose would be following the partners.

The additions represent a significant expansion of Winston’s Latin America practice. The firm previously had 15 to 20 lawyers, who actively practised with Latin American clients.

Fitzgerald said Winston had been searching for practitioners in New York with special expertise in capital markets, M&A and private equity. Winston pursued the group because of those strengths and their Latin American experience.

He said: “This is a game-changing opportunity for us in New York. We’re getting a team of 10 lawyers who have an extraordinary expertise to expand New York and take us to another level in our Latin American practice. That combination is very rare to find.”

When Norton Rose announced it had closed the deal with Chadbourne a month ago, it touted that the combined firm would have enhanced capabilities in many areas, including Latin American finance and infrastructure.

However, Fitzgerald said the group had ethical conflicts and business conflicts. The lawyers do not practise local law in Latin America and while Norton Rose has offices in various Latin American regions, the group did not want to compete with local law firms on local law matters, according to Fitzgerald.

In a statement, Norton Rose Fulbright said a “combination of this size and scope brings with it significant changes, and some lawyers leaving is not surprising”.