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Norton Rose and Fulbright & Jaworski combine

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/06/13

Like one of those slightly disturbing children's drawings of dinosaurs with laser eyes and robot legs, two major players in the legal world - Norton Rose and Fulbright & Jaworksi - have joined forces to create a terrifying Frankenstein's monster of a law firm that ranks as one of the largest in the modern legal profession.

People in legal careers may be glad to see the merger, which indicates that both companies have some faith in the possibilities for global growth, even if they have decided to band together in order to increase their chances of success.

The new firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, has close to 3,800 lawyers - it is in the top ten legal practices by number of staff and overall business revenue. Furthermore, it has offices in more than 50 countries, with the international dimension considered a key part of the decision to bring the two old companies together.

Global chief executive Peter Martyr said: "This combination endorses our position on the global stage. This is one of the largest transatlantic legal combinations completed to date and confirms Norton Rose Fulbright as a global legal practice. We have an exciting future ahead."

A trend of mergers like this could emerge, allowing smaller law firms to threaten the dominance of magic circle organisations and their Biglaw counterparts in the US.

Norton Rose was a 219-year-old London practice, while Fulbright & Jaworski was a slightly younger American firm. While it would be tempting to speculate that fish-out-of-water shenanigans could ensue (Americans don't like tea! English people are unwilling to discuss their emotions!) the reality of the globalised legal world makes this unlikely.

On the bright side, we can confirm that at least one legal cliché remains staunchly accurate - the Indepedent reports that the merger was sealed over a glass of Lagavulin single malt whisky in a West Sussex hotel bar last summer.