Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia (Photo by Karoline Cullen)

Norton Rose Fulbright, continuing its five-year expansion across Canada, will combine with Vancouver-based Bull, Housser & Tupper, both firms announced Monday.

The acquisition of 126-year-old Bull Housser vaults 3,800-lawyer Norton Rose Fulbright towards the top of the regional legal market. Among rival firms up north, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin has 141 lawyers in Vancouver; Borden Ladner Gervais about 120 lawyers; and 94 lawyers at Blake, Cassels & Graydon, according to Business in Vancouver.

Among international firms, DLA Piper, another newcomer to Vancouver, has 95 lawyers in the city following its acquisition last year of 260-lawyer Davis. The disappearance of Bull Housser leaves just one remaining regional peer—Vancouver-based Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy—with equal heft in the region, which has the fastest-growing economy in Canada.

Norton Rose Fulbright became the first global firm to enter Canada in a large-scale way in 2011 by absorbing Montreal-based Ogilvy Renault into its Swiss verein network. Later that same year, London-based legacy firm Norton Rose picked up Calgary-based Macleod Dixon.

Bull Housser’s 92 lawyers should bring Norton Rose Fulbright’s head count to around 660 lawyers in Canada, topping Blake Cassels and Fasken Martineau and putting the global firm within a stone’s throw of 723-lawyer Borden Ladner and 664-lawyer Gowling WLG, according to head count data compiled by ALM’s RivalEdge. (Gowling WLG was formed via a trans-Atlantic merger earlier this year.)

Norton Rose Fulbright’s verein network has started to disrupt the traditional hold on top deals, advisory rankings and national brand recognition held by the Seven Sisters—the name used to refer to Canada’s top independent firms. In August, Norton Rose Fulbright ranked first in deal value in equity and debt offerings in Canada for the second quarter of 2016, according to the Financial Post. In April, Norton Rose Fulbright also ranked third in market research firm Acritas’ Canadian Law Firm Brand Index.

Bull Housser, which will become Norton Rose Fulbright’s new Vancouver office, is known for its work on infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships. The firm and maritime partner William McFetridge are representing Seaspan Marine Corp. in negotiating and finalizing its share of a five-year-old, $35 billion federal government shipbuilding contract. Bull Housser infrastructure partner Greg Lewis advised the owners’ side in Canada’s first public-private partnership for a $2 billion rapid transit rail line in Vancouver.

Janet Grove, a technology and health care expert named managing partner of Bull Housser in February, will now head Norton Rose Fulbright’s Vancouver office. Charles Hurdon, who took over last year as Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian managing partner, will retain his local leadership role. Both lawyers called the combination announced Monday mutually beneficial.

Grove said in a statement that Bull Housser has been involved in many projects “that have transformed business in British Columbia and elsewhere.” Other well-regarded practices at the firm, which has 54 partners, include real estate, high-end estate planning, commercial law, dispute resolution and litigation. “Through this combination our clients will now have seamless and timely access to first-rate legal support wherever they do business,” Grove said.

Norton Rose Fulbright, which adopted its current name in 2013 following its absorption of Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski, said in a statement by Hurdon that its clients wants are keen on expanded access across Canada, the western U.S. and Pacific Rim. (Norton Rose Fulbright opened a San Francisco office in June and will enter into an alliance with Kenyan firm Walker Kontos in October.)

Crae Garrett, head of Canadian infrastructure, mining and commodities at Norton Rose Fulbright, noted that his firm had been looking to expand into Vancouver for a few years. Norton Rose Fulbright has long worked and referred clients to Bull Housser.

“We try and anticipate what our clients want, and they want the West Coast,” Garrett said. “Long story short, we figured out that the only effective way to penetrate a market is to align yourself with a firm that has deep local roots and boots on the ground and that shares your vision.”

The two firms will officially integrate their operations on Jan. 1, 2017. Garrett said that all of Bull Housser’s lawyers are expected to become part of Norton Rose Fulbright.

Norton Rose Fulbright , continuing its five-year expansion across Canada, will combine with Vancouver-based Bull, Housser & Tupper, both firms announced Monday.

The acquisition of 126-year-old Bull Housser vaults 3,800-lawyer Norton Rose Fulbright towards the top of the regional legal market. Among rival firms up north, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin has 141 lawyers in Vancouver; Borden Ladner Gervais about 120 lawyers; and 94 lawyers at Blake, Cassels & Graydon , according to Business in Vancouver.

Among international firms, DLA Piper , another newcomer to Vancouver, has 95 lawyers in the city following its acquisition last year of 260-lawyer Davis. The disappearance of Bull Housser leaves just one remaining regional peer—Vancouver-based Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy—with equal heft in the region, which has the fastest-growing economy in Canada.

Norton Rose Fulbright became the first global firm to enter Canada in a large-scale way in 2011 by absorbing Montreal-based Ogilvy Renault into its Swiss verein network. Later that same year, London-based legacy firm Norton Rose picked up Calgary-based Macleod Dixon.

Bull Housser’s 92 lawyers should bring Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s head count to around 660 lawyers in Canada, topping Blake Cassels and Fasken Martineau and putting the global firm within a stone’s throw of 723-lawyer Borden Ladner and 664-lawyer Gowling WLG, according to head count data compiled by ALM’s RivalEdge. (Gowling WLG was formed via a trans-Atlantic merger earlier this year.)

Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s verein network has started to disrupt the traditional hold on top deals, advisory rankings and national brand recognition held by the Seven Sisters—the name used to refer to Canada’s top independent firms. In August, Norton Rose Fulbright ranked first in deal value in equity and debt offerings in Canada for the second quarter of 2016, according to the Financial Post. In April, Norton Rose Fulbright also ranked third in market research firm Acritas’ Canadian Law Firm Brand Index.

Bull Housser, which will become Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s new Vancouver office, is known for its work on infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships. The firm and maritime partner William McFetridge are representing Seaspan Marine Corp. in negotiating and finalizing its share of a five-year-old, $35 billion federal government shipbuilding contract. Bull Housser infrastructure partner Greg Lewis advised the owners’ side in Canada’s first public-private partnership for a $2 billion rapid transit rail line in Vancouver.

Janet Grove, a technology and health care expert named managing partner of Bull Housser in February, will now head Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s Vancouver office. Charles Hurdon, who took over last year as Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s Canadian managing partner, will retain his local leadership role. Both lawyers called the combination announced Monday mutually beneficial.

Grove said in a statement that Bull Housser has been involved in many projects “that have transformed business in British Columbia and elsewhere.” Other well-regarded practices at the firm, which has 54 partners, include real estate, high-end estate planning, commercial law, dispute resolution and litigation. “Through this combination our clients will now have seamless and timely access to first-rate legal support wherever they do business,” Grove said.

Norton Rose Fulbright , which adopted its current name in 2013 following its absorption of Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski , said in a statement by Hurdon that its clients wants are keen on expanded access across Canada, the western U.S. and Pacific Rim. ( Norton Rose Fulbright opened a San Francisco office in June and will enter into an alliance with Kenyan firm Walker Kontos in October.)

Crae Garrett, head of Canadian infrastructure, mining and commodities at Norton Rose Fulbright , noted that his firm had been looking to expand into Vancouver for a few years. Norton Rose Fulbright has long worked and referred clients to Bull Housser.

“We try and anticipate what our clients want, and they want the West Coast,” Garrett said. “Long story short, we figured out that the only effective way to penetrate a market is to align yourself with a firm that has deep local roots and boots on the ground and that shares your vision.”

The two firms will officially integrate their operations on Jan. 1, 2017. Garrett said that all of Bull Housser’s lawyers are expected to become part of Norton Rose Fulbright .