Legal Business Blogs

Disputes reboot: Norton Rose Fulbright targets India and construction following practice review

Having faced ongoing market criticism for losing multiple disputes partners from its City base in recent years, top ten LB100 firm Norton Rose Fulbright has developed a new strategy for the practice on an international scale in a bid to support growth outside the London office.

In July, Legal Business revealed that the firm intended to carry out a review of the practice in September, with a meeting comprising all EMEA team leaders to take stock of its current position and how to achieve growth outside London.

The disputes leadership have now agreed on a number of development initiatives, including forming an India group with partners from London, Dubai and Singapore working together to develop relationships in and coming out of the Indian market ‘with a view to capturing related disputes work in those jurisdictions’.

It has further established an international construction group with members from London, Dubai and Hong Kong and the development of an electronic product for use by clients; a form of support to help ‘manage potential disputes early on with a view to mitigating the risk of litigation’.

On the changes, EMEA disputes head Deirdre Walker told Legal Business: ‘Whilst within EMEA and particularly in London we have seen significant growth over the last 3 years, we recognised that there remains much left to do and that we need to focus on growth in Europe and Asia.’

Walker added that industries such as insurance, regulatory, investigations and IP remain ‘key areas for growth’ for the practice, particularly in Europe, while it is also focusing on energy and commodities as having ‘potential for real growth’ both in London and internationally.

The dispute team’s re-strategising follows a spate of departures since 2012 that were said to leave a substantial gap in the firm’s City offering, and included arbitration head Joseph Tirado for Winston & Strawn, respected financial disputes partner Charles Evans to Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, Steve Abraham for Baker & McKenzie and high-profile litigation partner Antony Dutton, who resigned in January 2012 to join the City office of Dechert. Prominent partners remaining includes energy head Neil Miller, and disputes partners Susan Dingwall, Radford Goodman and Ruth Cowley. The Fulbright merger in June 2013 also brought respected global co-head of regulation and investigations Lista Cannon, together with head of investigations for EMEA Chris Warren-Smith and financial services litigator Melanie Ryan.

It also follows an overhaul in 2013 which saw the disputes practice’s dual energy and transport, and banking and commercial divisions multiplied into four, to include a contentious insurance practice following the hire of CMS Cameron McKenna partners Liam O’Connell and Kirsty Hick and the investigations and regulatory team run by Lista Cannon and Martin Coleman.