Law firm Bull Housser Tupper merges with Norton Rose Fulbright

BHT to operate under the Norton Rose Fulbright name

Bull Housser Tupper moved onto three floors at Telus Garden in April | BHT

One of the world’s fastest-growing law firms will merge with Vancouver’s Bull Housser Tupper (BHT) in a move that will see BHT operate as Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF).

BHT is Vancouver’s sixth-largest law firm with 95 local lawyers, according to Business in Vancouver’s 2016 list of largest law firms.

The firm specializes in legal niches such as real estate, wealth preservation, general business, dispute resolution, litigation and infrastructure projects.

In April, 2015, it celebrated its 125th anniversary by moving into 67,000 square feet on three floors of the Telus Garden office tower.

NRF has rapidly grown into a global legal powerhouse.

It was created in 2013 when London’s Norton Rose merged with U.S.-based Fulbright & Jaworski and, with the stroke of a pen, NRF became one of the largest law firms on the planet.

The 2013 mega-merger came after multiple Norton Rose mergers with Canadian firms.

For example, Norton Rose merged with Ogilvy Renault LLP in May 2011 and MacLeod Dixon LLP in January 2012.

BHT managing partner Janet Grove will continue to be the company’s Vancouver managing partner while Ottawa-based Charles Hurdon will be the company’s Canadian managing partner.

“NRF reflects an approach to service, and has a culture of diversity and excellence, that is well-aligned with our own” Grove said in a release.

She added that BHT’s move to NRF’s global platform delivers three key advantages for clients:

•“innovative” service offerings, such as a client portal that allows legal departments to access documents, automate some business and conduct more efficient due diligence;

•improved efficiencies through advanced technology and systems; and,

•access to leading legal advisors around the globe.

“We are one of the fastest-growing law firms in the world and in just over five years, have established a presence in Australia, Canada, South and North Africa, Latin America and Central Asia,” said NRF’s global CEO Peter Martyr.

“The combination with BHT, following our recent establishment of an office in San Francisco, reinforces our growing Pacific Rim practice.”

Legal recruiter and The Counsel Network managing partner Warren Smith told Business in Vancouver that the deal raises the spectre that other regional law firms with a strong presence in Vancouver could also be taken over by global behemoths.  Those firms include Lawson Lundell LLP, Farris Vaughan Wills and Murphy LLP and Clark Wilson LLP.

“Law firms follow their clients, not the other way around,” he said.

“The client demand ultimately must be saying to the legal market, ‘We need a level of service and we need the ability to not just have national but also international service options available to us in order to do business in Vancouver.’”

Law firms are responding to that.

Smith pointed to recent transactions that have brought large national or international firms to Vancouver.

“You now have DLA [Piper (Canada) LLP] in Vancouver. You have Dentons in Vancouver. You have Gowlings [WLG] in Vancouver. In the past few years, you’ve seen Cassells [Brock & Blackwell LLP], Bennett Jones and Osler [Hoskin & Harcourt LLP] all open up offices here.”

gkorstrom@biv.com 

@GlenKorstrom