Middle East goes for Norton Rose

Buried among all the hoo-haa about the mega-growth Norton Rose has achieved recently through its plan of global bolt-ons is a trend in the opposite direction.

Slowly but surely the firm’s Middle East offices looks to have been steadily shrinking, a trend highlighted by the exit of four partners across banking, corporate and projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to three US firms in 2011and a bunch of departing lawyers in Bahrain.

Now it appears the UK firm is looking to ‘offload’ the problematic outposts onto its latest best chum, Fulbright & Jaworski, with which it is due to merge in the summer.

Now, when we say ‘merge’, that does of course open a can of worms. Opinion remains divided over whether the Swiss Verein deals where profits aren’t shared count as the real deal.

In this case it looks as if Norton Rose will get to bulk up its global revenue figures but avoid any dilution of profits by reallocating its Middle East network into the US LLP of Norton Rose Fulbright.

It looks like a neat bit of ring-fencing, though it’s not yet clear quite how well this spot of chair shifting will go down at Fulbright.

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