Norton Rose Fulbright riders during the April 12-13, 2014, MS150 ride from Houston to Austin. ()
What do you get when lawyers from 11 countries come to Texas to ride their bikes 180 miles across a countryside dotted with springtime wildflowers?
You get a primo bonding experience for lawyers of a recently merged global firm, according to two Norton Rose Fulbright partners who rode on the firm’s team in the 2014 BP MS 150, an April 12-13 ride from Houston to Austin that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. According to the MS 150 website, the team brought in donations totaling nearly $181,000.
Team captain Dan McClure of Houston recalled that it was “an enormous logistical undertaking” to organize the team of 142 riders plus volunteer support staff. McClure helped coordinate the riders’ arrivals, airport transportation and stays in the homes of Houston lawyers. Riders shipped their bikes to the Houston office, where the bikes were assembled. Bikes, luggage and volunteers had to be hauled around with the team.
Why spend so much time and effort? McClure explained that the firm supports a charity annually, and the ride presented a bonding opportunity.
“We had just combined Fulbright & Jaworski last summer with the Norton Rose entities—the firm around the world. This was an opportunity to integrate a worldwide firm on a personal level and to let lawyers from all over the world do something together, to help bond personally, as opposed to just being business colleagues,” said McClure.
One day, the team rested at the Bellville ranch of one rider’s relative. They sat in tall Texas grass overlooking the Colorado River and ate lunch near a vintage 1950s log cabin. The ranch’s owner wore a Stetson and cowboy boots, and “all of the Brits” posed for pictures with him, said McClure.
Partner Andrius Kontrimas, the firm’s global head of tax and cohead of the Houston office, recalled that the team went through “some of the prettiest parts of Texas” dotted with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. After riding all day on April 12, the team stopped in La Grange, feasted on Texas barbecue and slept in “a very large tent” with 170 cots.
“After riding 180 miles together and enduring this long ride and sleeping outside in cots in a tent in La Grange, Texas—it will bring you together,” explained Kontrimas. He said he began “a dozen or more lifetime friendships” during the ride.