Norton Rose suffers four-partner walk out in Paris

Norton Rose is set to lose a team of four partners in Paris, one month after losing five lawyers to Stephenson Harwood.

Corporate partners Jean-Francois Mercadier, Pascale Gallien and Anne-Sylvie Vassenaix-Paxton, and dispute resolution partner Alexander Brabant are all expected to leave the firm with their associates.

It is not clear where they are going to and the details of when they will leave have not yet been worked out.

According to Norton Rose’s group chief executive Peter Martyr, the team left due to disagreements about the management of the office.

“We’ve not been able to agree with him [Mercadier] on terms of management,” said Martyr, “and I think that’s a naturally accepted position in big international firms where you have to be able to do things in a certain way. We’re looking to make substantial growth in Paris and we need everybody to be on the same page in terms of management.”

Martyr added that the firm would be announcing new growth in the next couple of months.

Mercadier was a name partner at Sokolow Dunaud Mercadier & Carreras until 2004, when he joined Norton Rose as part of a five- partner team.

In September 2010 Norton Rose’s Paris shipping finance head Alain Gautron left the firm along with tax partner Stephane Salou, two associates and one paralegal to join Stephenson Harwood.

The latest departures take place in a year where there have been high levels of partner movement in France. According to consultants Day One, in the first half of 2010 there were 114 lateral partner moves, and at least 11 new firms have opened in France this year (20 September 2010).

“It’s an unusual market,” said Martyr. “It’s quite volatile and there’s a lot of individualism amongst the advocates and I think being in a big firm is not for everybody.”

Norton Rose moved into larger offices in Paris last month.