Norton Rose Fulbright and Chadbourne Complete Merger

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright and the smaller New York-based law firm Chadbourne & Parke completed their merger on Friday, the firms announced.

The deal marks the end of Chadbourne’s 115-year run as a stand-alone law firm and is the latest sign of consolidation in the legal industry.

The new firm, keeping the name Norton Rose Fulbright, has 4,000 lawyers in 59 offices in 33 countries, the firm said in a statement.

The firm is expected have $2 billion in revenue, which would make it the sixth top grossing firm in the United States, according to the American Lawyer’s 2017 rankings. Norton Rose is currently at spot 10 on the ranking.

Founded in 1902, 250-lawyer Chadbourne has esteemed project finance and litigation practices. It counts as a partner Abbe Lowell, who is representing President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner in Russia-related investigations. Lowell was also chief counsel to House Democrats in the fight over Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

Norton Rose Fulbright, with around 3,400 lawyers in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and India is the product of a 2012 merger between the Houston-based law firm Fulbright & Jaworski and the British firm Norton Rose.

In combining with Chadbourne, Norton Rose Fulbright expands its United States presence, particularly on the East Coast. The new firm’s U.S. practice has roughly 1,000 lawyers, with more than 300 in New York and 130 in Washington, D.C., the firm said.

“We now offer enhanced capabilities in New York and Washington, DC, while our global platform expands to Mexico City, São Paulo and Istanbul,” said Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chief Executive.

Andrew Giaccia, managing partner of Chadbourne, has become Vice Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright’s US Management Committee.

Other Chadbourne partners who will be members of the firm’s global executive committee include New York-based Howard Seife, chair of Chadbourne’s bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice, and Ayse Yuksel, managing partner of Chadbourne’s Istanbul office.

Giaccia, the Chadbourne managing partner, said in a statement that his firm’s lawyers “can now provide enhanced legal service to our clients in the world’s key business and financial centers.”

The firm said the combination provides “enhanced capabilities” in project finance, bankruptcy, litigation and white collar disputes, tax, and Latin American finance and infrastructure work, among other areas. It also adds lawyers in sectors like energy, infrastructure and finance.

According to Bloomberg Law, Chadbourne has represented clients in federal courts over the past year such as Johnson Controls Inc. and Rockwell Automation, Inc., while Norton Rose Fulbright has represented Baker Hughes Inc., Phillips 66 Co. and ConocoPhillips.

The merger was announced in February, but since then, some Chadbourne lawyers have opted to join competitors instead of going along with the combination.

In April, Paul Tanck, the head of Chadbourne’s IP group, joined Alston & Bird as a partner, and four Chadbourne project finance partners left to open two new Covington offices in Dubai and Johannesburg. This month, another fifteen lawyers joined them at Covington.

At one point earlier this month, Norton Rose Fulbright issued a statement saying the firm was working to resolve unspecified client conflicts, although sources within the firms said the work was in ordinary course like any large merger.

“We had amazingly few conflicts,” said Peter Martyr, the Norton Rose Fulbright CEO, in an interview.

He also addressed partners who decided not to join the newly formed firm.

“There is no design to lose people,” said Martyr, but added, “You have to expect, particularly where you have a small number of people in one location joining a much bigger organization, you do find that some people will find that unattractive. That’s a fact of life.”

He noted that the two firms occupied office space in the same Manhattan building, at 1301 6th Avenue, making the transition there easier than usual.

“It makes a huge difference in terms of integration,” he said.

Martyr declined to speak about a pending gender bias lawsuit filed against Chadbourne & Parke, in which three women, all former partners, allege they were systematically paid less than their male counterparts. The lawsuit depicts a “male-dominated culture” at Chadbourne in which senior leadership allegedly favored male successors over women.

There have been 51 law firm combinations announced this year, up from the 45 tallied at this time in 2016, according to consultancy Altman Weil.

Other notable recent combinations have included Boies Schiller Flexner’s April acquisition of West Coast litigation firm Caldwell Leslie & Procter, and Womble Carlyle’s June merger with London’s Bond Dickinson.

Write to Big Law Business at biglawbusiness@bna.com.