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East side story: NRF adds Manhattan capability with projects-driven Chadbourne tie-up

In its second major US merger in four years, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has secured strength for its New York practice through a deal with 400-lawyer Chadbourne & Parke.

The merger will see Chadbourne’s $250m practice bolted on to NRF’s US arm under the verein structure, giving the combined firm a potential global turnover of around $2bn.

NRF global chief executive Peter Martyr said: ‘Chadbourne has a proud history, and is known for its world class practices in energy, infrastructure, banking and finance. Joining forces with our new colleagues, we can offer our clients significant new capabilities in New York and Washington, DC.’

The deal will give NRF additional new offices in Mexico City, São Paulo and Istanbul. The combination creates a firm with 1,000 lawyers in the US and 300 lawyers in New York alone. NRF said the deal would give the firm 4,000 lawyers in 58 offices.

Chadbourne managing partner Andrew Giaccia said: ‘Our firms share a strategic vision and client focus, and we have highly complementary practice and industry strengths. Following the combination, our global offerings will be virtually unrivalled in many areas, from energy and infrastructure to finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and regulatory work.’

The deal results in the disappearance of the Chadbourne name as the projects, energy and insurance firm merges, with the bulk of the firm joining the NRF’s US arm and a handful of partners joining in the City.

NRF partners told Legal Business London partners only voted on lateral hires into the European business, with the main deal thrashed out by the US partnerships. Voting in London took place from Friday 3 February with one partner suggesting the hires were passed by the following Monday.

The deal adds significant strength in New York, a major target of NRF’s management since its tie up with Texan firm Fulbright & Jaworski in 2013, which was strong in disputes and energy but underweight in the New York market. Chadbourne also provides a trophy project finance practice.

In London the firm gains five partners who join NRF’s European LLP under Chadbourne managing partner Adrian Mecz, as well as several international partners from Moscow, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo.

The deal comes less than six months after NRF merged with 90-lawyer Canadian firm Bull, Housser & Tupper, its third Canadian merger.

Read more in: ‘On the bus – Inside the Norton Rose Fulbright masterplan’