UK law firm Norton Rose seals Canadian merger

LONDON Tue Oct 4, 2011 11:24am EDT

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LONDON Oct 4 (Reuters) - Norton Rose, the UK law firm, has sealed its second Canadian merger in as many years in an effort to beef up its mining and energy practice and expand into South America and Central Asia.

Norton Rose, which has been aggressively expanding since 2009, said it would team up with Canadian energy and resources-focused practice Macleod Dixon to create an enlarged group with combined turnover of more than $1.25 billion.

John Coleman will remain managing partner of Norton Rose Canada while Bill Tuer, managing partner of Macleod Dixon, will join Norton Rose Group's executive committee after the deal that brings lawyers in Colombia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan under the Norton Rose umbrella.

Once completed in January 2012, the deal will create one of the world's top five top international legal practices by headcount with more than 2,900 lawyers in 43 offices worldwide -- including more than 200 energy and 200 mining lawyers.

Norton Rose will still fall short of the "magic circle" of top London law firms in size, but it hopes its increasing strengths will help it secure its ambition of finding the right cultural fit with a U.S. law firm in two to five years.

"Ultimately, we have to be there, for sure. It's an imperative but it's not time critical," Chief Executive Peter Martyr told Reuters. "There will be a time for us to do it with a firm or firms that suit, or see the world the way we see it."

Martyr said there were a "good bunch of firms in the U.S." who might make good partners. He declined to give any details. (Reporting by Kirstin Ridley)

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