Norton Rose Fulbright to vote on merger with mid-pack Australian firm Henry Davis York

Norton Rose Fulbright to vote on merger with mid-pack Australian firm Henry Davis York

Partners at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) will vote on a merger with Australian law firm Henry Davis York within the coming months, after both firms confirmed they were in late stage discussions.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the firms said: ‘Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright and leading Australian law firm Henry Davis York are exploring a potential combination to create one of the largest providers of legal services in the Australian market, with leading positions in key industry sectors and practices.’

Henry Davis York is a long-standing, mid-pack Australian player with offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. The Legal 500 ranks the firm top tier in restructuring and insolvency, with a good reputation in projects and infrastructure, which should play to the strengths of NRF.

The full service firm has five defined sectors – financial services, government, infrastructure, healthcare and university.

Earlier this year, NRF pulled off its second US merger with New York-headquartered global firm Chadbourne & Parke, providing NRF with considerable east coast capability, which the firm has lacked since its combination with Texas-headquartered firm Fulbright & Jaworski in 2013.

The majority of Chadbourne lawyers will join NRF’s US business, while London partners are expected to join the Norton Rose Fulbright LLP within the Swiss verein, which comprises the legacy Norton Rose business.

The deal sees NRF add Chadbourne’s $250m business to its $1.7bn top line.

Chadbourne has around 300 lawyers worldwide, while the combined firm will have 1,000 in the US.

The merger comes four years after NRF first embarked on US expansion with a transformative merger between legacy Norton Rose and Fulbright & Jaworski. Despite the size of that new firm, the merger has failed to fire major growth, with combined turnover remaining largely flat post-merger.