Baker Botts is in talks to take on a large chunk of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Dubai operations amid a rift between the legacy UK and US arms of the post-merger firm’s team in the emirate.
Up to eight former Fulbright partners – the entire membership of the US LLP in the city – are understood to be in discussions with the Texan firm over a mass exodus.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s Dubai practice works out of two offices in the Dubai International Financial Centre and Festival City, with the legacy Norton Rose partners in the former and the ex-Fulbright team in the latter.
There is said to have been little appetite for the Fulbright partners to join the merged firm for a number of reasons including culture and profitability.
While no deal has been struck yet with Baker Botts, it is understood the Houston firm is in advanced talks to take on a large team, although other US rivals are also thought to be eyeing the partners.
The UK and US arms of Norton Rose Fulbright are also separate LLPs contributing to separate profit pools, in contrast to the original plan that would have seen the entire group join the US LLP (18 January 2013).
The Lawyer first reported earlier today that a large team of ex-Fulbright partners in Dubai was in talks with a leading US firm (10 June 2013). Senior figures at Norton Rose Fulbright have been attempted to shore up the situation by flying to the region.
Norton Rose Fulbright and Baker Botts declined to comment.