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John Coleman,managing partner at law firm Ogilvy Renault is photographed at the firm's Toronto offices on Nov 22 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
John Coleman,managing partner at law firm Ogilvy Renault is photographed at the firm's Toronto offices on Nov 22 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Norton-Macleod merger creates 'powerhouse' Add to ...

The merger of Calgary’s Macleod Dixon LLP and the Canadian wing of Norton Rose – the British-based global legal giant that swallowed Montreal’s Ogilvy Renault – creates a new national “powerhouse,” the firms’ leaders say.

Partners with Norton Rose OR LLP, as Montreal’s former Ogilvy Renault is now known, and at Macleod Dixon were still voting on the deal Tuesday. But the firms’ leadership said on Tuesday that so far no dissenters had cast ballots against the merger, which they say will result in a new world-leading firm in energy and mining law.

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The new firm will be called Norton Rose Canada. The deal’s benefits are obvious for London-based Norton Rose. It first moved into Canada’s legal market by merging with Ogilvy Renault in a deal that officially took effect in June, and included Ogilvy’s small Calgary office. The growing global law firm will now benefit from Macleod’s powerful presence in the oil patch and its footholds in Latin America.

“It was just the way we felt the world going,” John Coleman, managing partner of Norton Rose OR LLP, said in a telephone interview. “As we say, and as our partners have been telling us, it’s a no-brainer.”

He described the new firm as a “powerhouse” that “changes the legal landscape in Canada.”

Macleod Dixon LLP’s managing partner, Bill Tuer, said the firm was not concerned – as some at Ogilvy had been initially – about losing its brand name. For many years, it has been scouring the globe seeking new business, opening offices in Moscow, Bogota and in Caracas, where it has a large contingent of 50 lawyers.

“Our reputation and our history will remain intact,” Mr. Tuer said. “It wasn’t so much about a name as about the opportunity [for]an international platform.”

Discussions of other potential future foreign mergers have echoed in Canadian legal circles ever since the Norton Rose-Ogilvy deal was announced last year. In March, the co-chairman of Baltimore-based DLA Piper, a massive operator with more than 4,000 lawyers, said his firm was in merger talks with “three or four of the top 10” Canadian firms.

The announcement comes just a day after the firms, reacting to a media report, acknowledged they were in merger talks. The merger will officially take effect Jan. 1, 2012. Norton Rose’s new Canadian wing will have close to 700 lawyers, out of the global firm’s 2,900 worldwide.

Follow on Twitter: @jeffreybgray

 

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