Norton Rose courts US firms for merger talks…

Norton Rose is in merger talks with a number of US law firms, The Lawyer can reveal.

The news comes as Clifford Chance embarks on its pioneering merger with New York firm Rogers & Wells.

Roger Birkby, managing partner of Norton Rose, says: “We talk to a lot of firms in the US about various things, from loose affiliations to merger possibilities,” he says, adding: “It [a US merger] is truly in our sights.”

He adds: “There are a lot more of them than there are of us, but the choice is narrowed by the fact that many firms are purely domestic.”

Birkby says Norton Rose is one among many UK-based firms putting out feelers in the US. And part of the strategy has been to keep a close eye on developments at other firms.

If the Clifford Chance and Rogers & Wells merger goes ahead, other firms will be jumping on the bandwagon of transatlantic mergers, Birkby believes.

But Birkby says the Norton Rose probe is different: “We are trying to keep our fingers on the pulse. We know what's going on and have a dialogue with a lot of firms.

Although an announcement could be imminent. Birkby refuses to say when but adds cryptically: “At least not in the next two weeks.”