Norton Rose Fulbright to close Prague office for second time due to “difficult” market conditions

Norton Rose Fulbright is set to close its Prague office on 1 May 2014, following a review of the Czech market.

The firm made the decision to shut down the office earlier this year, following an 18-month review by partners spread across Norton Rose Fulbright’s various geographies. 

Tim Marsden, the firm’s deputy managing partner for Europe, Middle East and Asia, told The Lawyer that the decision was a result of “long-term difficult trading conditions” and aggressive competition from other firms operating in the region. 

It is the second time that legacy Norton Rose has shut its doors in Prague, following the closure of its first outpost there in September 1996 (4 September 1996).

Norton Rose Fulbright opted to re-enter the Czech market in 2006, splitting off from its joint venture in the region and establishing its own independent office. It is currently home to 18 staff, including two partners. 

Corporate partner Milana Chamberlain, who heads up the Prague base, will return to London where she will take up a senior position within the firm’s City business, ethics and anti-corruption practice – a move that was planned before the decision to shut down the outpost. 

The other partner operating in Norton Rose Fulbright’s Prague base, corporate and banking specialist Pavel Kvíčala, is to join Czech-Slovak firm Holásek & Partners on 1 May along with his team. 

Marsden added in a statement: “Prague is a difficult market for firms with a global business model to compete in. We have been keeping the Czech market under review for some time. With no strong signs that market conditions are likely to change, we have decided that now is an appropriate time to effect a managed exit. The smooth transition of relevant client matters to Pavel Kvíčala will be a priority, and we look forward to working closely with Pavel and his team at Havel Holásek in the future”. 

He said that the firm’s other regional offices, in Warsaw and Moscow were performing “as we would like”.