(Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
In its latest group hire, Winston & Strawn has brought on 10 partners in New York from Norton Rose Fulbright, just weeks after Norton Rose cemented its merger with the group’s former firm, Chadbourne & Parke.
Winston chairman Thomas Fitzgerald said the lawyers were “concerned about a number of conflicts” that would limit their practice as a result of the merger, which was finalized June 30. While the group respected Chadbourne and Norton Rose Fulbright, he said, the combined firm was “inconsistent with how they had ran their practice.”
The group is led by corporate lawyers Talbert Navia and Allen Miller, who were co-heads of the Latin America practice at Chadbourne. The group also includes Julissa Reynoso, Mort Grosz, Beth Kramer, Scott Naidech, Sey-Hyo Lee, Claude Serfilippi, Kevin Smith and Marcelo Blackburn.
All 10 are now partners at Winston. They were all previously partners at Chadbourne except for Blackburn, who was counsel.
Winston said the group works with Latin America-based corporate and private equity clients, U.S.-based clients involved in Latin America, and clients in the Iberian Peninsula. The lawyers focus on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, financings, private equity and fund formation, joint ventures, reorganizations and international arbitration and litigation.
Winston intends to hire associates to support their practice. Fitzgerald declined to say whether other lawyers from Norton Rose would follow them.
The additions represent a significant expansion of Winston’s Latin America practice. The firm previously had 15 to 20 lawyers who actively practiced with Latin American clients.
Fitzgerald said Winston was searching for practitioners in New York with special expertise in capital markets, M&A and private equity. Winston pursued the group because the lawyers have those strengths and the group would greatly expand its Latin American practice, he said.
“This is a game-changing opportunity for us in New York. We’re getting a team of 10 lawyers who have an extraordinary expertise,” Fitzgerald said, and they will “expand New York and take us to another level in the Latin America practice. That combination is very rare to find.”
When Norton Rose announced it had closed the deal with Chadbourne a month ago, it touted that the combined firm would have enhanced capabilities in many areas, including Latin American finance and infrastructure.
But Fitzgerald said that the Latin America practice group joining Winston had ethical conflicts and business conflicts. The lawyers do not practice local law in Latin America, and while Norton Rose has offices in various Latin American regions, the lateral partners did not want to compete with local law firms for local law matters, Fitzgerald said.
In a statement Tuesday, Norton Rose, referring to its merger with Chadbourne creating a firm with 59 offices and 33 countries, said a “combination of this size and scope brings with it significant changes, and some lawyers leaving is not surprising.”
For Winston, the Chadbourne additions come amid a spree of lateral partner hiring.
This year the firm added lawyers from Fish & Richardson in Silicon Valley, and the firm wants to hire about 15 more in the office from various firms, Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to double the size of the office,” he said, declining to discuss more details.
Also in 2017, Winston brought on more than 10 lawyers from McDermott Will & Emery and opened a Dallas office in February, where it has hired about 26 lateral partners from nine different law firms, Fitzgerald said.