Norman Steinberg now Group Chairman of Norton Rose Group

Today was Norton Rose Group’s first day with a Group Chairman from outside the United Kingdom. Norman Steinberg, who is based in the Montreal office of the global firm, has assumed the one year position.

Steinberg’s main role will be international business development, which he has been responsible for on a national level already as Chairman of Norton Rose Canada LLP. He says that his new role will involve both helping his firm’s Canadian clients to bring “them across the world to the other places in the world where they do business where we can help them” and to work with the firm’s international clients to “extend these clients to other parts of the world where we do business where they may not be doing business with our different offices.”

The previous Group Chairman of the firm was Stephen Parish, who will continue as Chairman of Norton Rose LLP in the UK.

Steinberg will chair the firm’s supervisory board, which meets several times a year and is composed of people from around the world, and will attend the firm’s executive committee that is led by Group Chief Executive, Peter Martyr.

“Having a Canadian Group Chairman is a reflection of the globalisation of the practice,” Martyr said in a press release.

Steinberg told Lexpert that one of the areas the firm is looking to expand is the US:

At some point, when the timing is right, we will enter to US market. Before we do so, we are going to be very careful that when we enter the US market, it is with a firm that has the same cultural values as us. The Norton Rose Group today comprises 2,900 lawyers, what is amazing about it is the cultural fit of all of us within this global platform. That will be a key driver to Peter [Martyr]’s determination of if and when we enter the US market.

With recent reports about a potential bankruptcy of US firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, which was was formed through the 2007 merger of Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and was seen as the largest law firm merger in history at the time, being careful is no doubt a good approach for Norton Rose. But Steinberg downplays the relevance of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s difficulties to his firm’s:

It is like any business in the world, there is always some businesses that are doing great, and others that are having difficulty. I don’t think one can look at the Dewey LeBoeuf thing and say that has any implications for what we or other law firms are doing. There is a relatively new dynamic in the marketplace. And that simply is that we have to change the way we do business to evolve to our clients. Our clients have tremendous budgetary constraints. They are looking at new ways to relate to us, whether it is different methods of pricing or working as closer partners on projects together. Of course the way we conduct our business is changing but I don’t think that has any bearing over how we will continue to expand our global practice.

Norton Rose has over 2,900 lawyers and is looking to many areas for potential international growth. Like everyone, Norton Rose is focusing on Asia and currently has 120 lawyers and professionals in China and offices in Indonesia, Japan,  Thailand and Vietnam. Steinberg also sees Africa as an area with a lot potential for growth and the firm has offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa, and Casablanca in Morocco.

It is fair to say there is probably not place in the world that we’re not not looking at in terms of future development.

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