Norton Rose Fulbright hands 25 per cent of governance roles to US partners

Norton Rose Fulbright has granted just over 25 per cent of positions on its two key governance bodies to US partners, meaning legacy Fulbright & Jaworski is almost as well represented on the management groups as the UK.

Peter Martyr
Peter Martyr

In total 11 Fulbright partners join either the global executive committee (ex comm) or the supervisory board when the merger goes live tomorrow (3 June), compared with 12 in London.

The new-look ex comm, which oversees strategy and is chiefed by global CEO Peter Martyr, has expanded from Norton Rose’s 13-strong group to a 21-partner committee comprising five US figures.

These include Dallas-based legacy Fulbright chairman Kenneth Stewart, who now heads the US arm, as well as New York-based global disputes chief Linda Addison, Washington DC projects partner Gregg Harris, Houston litigator Gerry Pecht and San Antonio office head George Scofield.

Other new members are London-based global corporate head Martin Scott, Toronto IP partner Jane Caskey, Sydney banking partner Alison Deitz and Melbourne disputes specialist Tom Jarvis, while former Australia managing partner Don Boyd leaves the committee following his retirement. Overall, six are in London, with the rest spread across Australia, Canada, South Africa and Hong Kong.

These include the firms’s global chairman, who also attends its meetings but is not formally a member of ex comm. Montreal-based Norman Steinberg previously carried out this role but was replaced on 1 May by Sydney partner Adrian Ahern, will continue to do this (15 February 2013).

Fulbright previously had a seven-strong executive committee chaired by Stewart.

Meanwhile, the firmwide supervisory board has been extended to include six incoming US partners: Dallas litigator Rodney Acker, Houston disputes partner Mark Baker, Houston energy specialist Deborah Gitomer, Houston antitrust partner Layne Kruse and Dallas bankruptcy partner Louis Strubeck.

The supervisory board, which monitors the ex comm, now houses 20 partners compared with 15 on Norton Rose’s pre-merger team. Steinberg remains on the board, but Johannesburg litigator Michael Hart has stepped down.

The UK and the US are equally represented on the board, with six representatives each. It is chaired by Ahern.

The appointments mean a total of 40 partners will have roles on one of the oversight bodies out of a global partnership of 1,225. Martyr told The Lawyer it was “a good idea to have more people [on the ex comm and board] rather than fewer as it gives extra punch power”.

Ex comm members are appointed, usually for at least two years, while supervisory board roles are elected by partners and run for three years.

Kenneth Stewart
Kenneth Stewart

The merger’s completion comes just six months after partners at the UK’s Norton Rose and Houston’s Fulbright voted in favour of the $1.9bn (£1.25bn) tie-up (14 November 2012).

The combined business comprises more than 3,800 lawyers out of a total headcount of 7,500, making Norton Rose Fulbright the third largest firm globally by lawyer numbers, behind DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie but ahead of all of the magic circle.

Last week the firm confirmed its key global practice heads, with Scott replacing Hong Kong-based David Stannard as worldwide corporate chief and Addison taking over as disputes leader from City partner Deirdre Walker (28 May 2013).

Other global practice heads will be Jeremy Edwards (banking, London), Caskey (IP, Toronto), Martin Coleman (antitrust, competition and regulatory, London), Richard Charney (employment and labour, Toronto) and Peter Trevaskis (real estate, Sydney). Houston-based Andrius Kontrima, who headed Fulbright’s global tax practice, will retain the role at the merged firm, replacing legacy Norton Rose tax chief Louise Higginbottom.

Separately, the firm is moving ahead with plans to open in Brazil and Mexico, with discussions over a Brazilian office launch set to take place later this year. Legacy Macleod Dixon’s alliance with Brazil’s Veirano Advogados was discontinued when the Canadian firm joined Norton Rose in 2012.

A Brazil entry would be through opening a base rather than a merger (16 November 2012), while both options in Mexico are being considered.

New York expansion is also on the agenda following the hire of Blank Rome shipping finance partner Brian Devine last month, its first Manhattan lateral since the merger was announced in November.

Norton Rose Fulbright executive committee in full:

Peter Martyr, Global CEO, London

Linda Addison, New York

Jane Caskey, Toronto

John Coleman, Montreal

Alison Deitz, Sydney

Jeremy Edwards, London

Gregg Harris, Washington, DC

Tom Jarvis, Melbourne

Michael Lang, Toronto

Tim Marsden, London

Kevin Mortell, London

Rob Otty, Johannesburg

Gerry Pecht, Houston

Bill Tuer, Calgary

George Scofield, San Antonio

Martin Scott, London

Wayne Spanner, Sydney

David Stannard, Hong Kong

Kenneth Stewart, Dallas

Deirdre Walker, London

Norton Rose Fulbright supervisory board in full:

Adrian Ahern, global chairman, Sydney

Rodney Acker, Dallas

Mark Baker, Houston

Pierre Bienvenu, Montreal

Jill Gauntlett, London

Deborah Gitomer, Houston

Sbu Gule, Johannesburg

Cameron Harvey, Melbourne

Louise Higginbottom, London

Clarke Hunter, Calgary

Mark Jones, London

Raj Karia, London

Layne Kruse, Houston

Chris McLeod, Perth

Stephen Parish, London

Norman Steinberg, Montreal

Louis Strubeck, Dallas

Tom Vita, London

William Wood, Houston

Ava Yaskiel, Toronto