The increasingly wide-ranging and cross-departmental regulatory needs of clients sees Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) today (3 February) launch a 600-lawyer international global regulation and investigations practice led by former Fulbright & Jaworski disputes partner and investigations head Lista Cannon and global antitrust chief Martin Coleman.
The 130-partner team will connect global practices including antitrust and competition (led by Coleman); financial services regulation (led by Jonathan Herbst); investigations (including bribery and corruption and international trade and sanctions, led by Cannon); and tax (led by global head Andrius Kontrimas).
As part of the launch, the firm’s lawyers will make efforts to engage with businesses globally throughout 2014 to ‘debate key issues in the identification and management of regulatory risk and related enforcement’, and will conduct events including seminars, client meetings and internal briefings to share knowledge on regulation and investigation issues across key financial centres globally.
Recent research carried out by legal market specialist Acritas, which comprised data from 1,337 interviews with general counsel or their equivalent in organisations globally, found that regulation is the number one business challenge for the world’s global elite businesses.
NRF’s own annual Litigation Trends Survey has also shown that since 2008, companies have been increasingly requiring external counsel for assistance on regulatory investigations and that regulatory disputes have consistently been a major concern.
Plans to design a practice encompassing a wide range of industry skill sets has been in the pipeline since before the firm’s merger went live last year.
Speaking to Legal Business, Cannon said: ‘It’s an opportunity of the combination [of NRF and Fulbright & Jaworski] to take it to another level, to show great depths not just in numbers but geographically. If you look at the industry sectors our clients operate in… these have a regulatory and investigatory rainbow going through them. You can’t be in energy, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, financial institutions or technology without regulation having an impact. The combination of the two has given us that opportunity to push out and develop.’
Coleman added: ‘What we increasingly realised is traditionally you can stereotypically split commercial lawyers into two groups: disputes lawyers going in with their sleeves rolled up to have a fight; and transactional lawyers that sit up late at night and ensure the deal gets done for the client. But the skill set for a regulatory lawyer doesn’t neatly fit into either of those – it has elements of both but always involves something else – it requires strategic and policy understanding of the regulator.’