Norton Rose Fulbright - The Inside View

With top-tier practices in restructuring, projects and commercial litigation, and a clear focus on renewable energy, international firm Norton Rose is full of bright ideas… 

“NRF is a massive international group – there are very few firms with the same breadth.” With a presence in over 30 countries worldwide, Norton Rose Fulbright certainly ticks the ‘international firm’ box that so many associates look for. On US turf, the firm’s principal markets are found in New York, California, and Texas, and while NRF’s office in the Big Apple is its largest, the largest group of junior associates are based in Texas, in either Houston, Dallas or Austin. Juniors can also be found in San Antonio and Washington, DC.

"... a prestige about being a Norton Rose attorney in Texas."

Norton Rose Fulbright is a particularly big player in Texas, and is awarded top-tier Chambers USArankings in bankruptcy/restructuring, securities litigation, and healthcare in the state. “Speaking to all sorts of people at other firms, I realized that there was a prestige about being a Norton Rose attorney in Texas,” one junior associate told us, “not in terms of rankings necessarily, but in terms of public perception and prestige.” The firm’s strength is not limited to its Texas practice, however. Norton Rose scoops further Chambers USA rankings nationally in product liability & mass torts, projects: renewables & alternative energy, and bankruptcy/restructuring, as well as state rankings in California, Minnesota and DC.

Strategy & Future



Part of NRF’s response to the pandemic has been to embrace a flexible working environment: “As a firm, we’re moving to three office days a week, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays a requirement,” Jeff Cody, the managing partner at Norton Rose Fulbright explains. “This is so that people are in the office at the same time, together, which is the whole point of office working.” As a part of its new approach to collaborative work, the firm has just signed the lease on a new location for its Houston office – a brand new construction that the Houston team will move into in 2024: “The opportunity to build different types of innovation into the office from the experience we have gained over the last year is really exciting.”

The Work



How work is assigned to junior associates varies between offices, but it’s safe to say that you are expected to be proactive when it comes to reaching out to partners. As one associate put it: “At the end of the day, I am the one who is expected to find work, but there is a good formal and informal mentoring scheme, so there are always people who have your back working behind the scenes.” As a first-year associate, it’s generally accepted that you’ll receive more oversight in terms of assignments, but there is always room to reach out and get your hands on whatever is going on at the firm: “We can get asked, but we can also go out and find things we are interested in.”

"We put together pitch files for when big bankruptcy cases hit the news, to pitch to clients when the bankruptcy gets filed.”

“If you’re based in Texas, Norton Rose is the first name you think of when you think of restructuring,” one associate told us, and they’re not wrong. The restructuring & insolvency practice at Norton Rose is undoubtedly an area of strength for the firm. The group works in collaboration with the bankruptcy team in Texas, but also maintains a national coverage: “We joke in our department that we are the last generalists,” one source said, “because you are always doing something different.” Associates joining the team can expect work on both contentious and noncontentious matters – anything from loan restructurings and exit financings, to bankruptcy and insolvency litigation. “A good chunk of our work comes from some corporate attorney across the hall who has had a client call them because a company who owes them money has gone bankrupt,” one of our sources explained, “but we also put together pitch files for when big bankruptcy cases hit the news, to pitch to clients when the bankruptcy gets filed.” With files to put together, it should come as no surprise that a lot of the work of junior associates is research-based: “But I don’t feel like I’m doing busy work. I was working on a first draft of a motion for a summary judgment last week.”

Bankruptcy/restructuring clients: Delta Air Lines, Ernst & Young, and Deutsche Bank. Represented GFG Alliance in negotiating with its creditors and evaluating potential restructurings after the collapse of its main lender, Greensill Capital.

The projectspractice at Norton Rose Fulbright used to be based mainly in New York, Washington DC, and California, but has now extended to Texas too. Associates at the firm told us that what side of projects you work in depends on the office: “The DC office does a lot of the financial projects work, the Texas offices do more of the corporate side of work – on M&A and things like that – and the New York office does a little bit of both.” Like other teams at Norton Rose Fulbright, the projects group has particular expertise in the energy sector: “It’s a pretty good mix in terms of having a variety of different sectors from the project development and financing side, but our main focus is renewable energy deals.” For junior associates in the team, there is lots of the usual document drafting and working on checklists for loan agreements, but in a comparatively small team, there are opportunities for junior associates to join partners working on interesting deals: “The lean staffing means there’s not a lot of people between me and the partner, which makes direct collaboration possible.”

Projects clients: National Grid Ventures, Goldwind USA, and Matrix Renewables. Represented C2 Energy Capital on the sale of distributed solar platform subsidiary C2 Omega to EDP Renewables North America for a nine-figure sum.

"We are heavily involved in the oil and gas field, but they are increasingly getting involved in renewables.”

Norton Rose Fulbright’s commercial litigation group is one of its broadest: “Commercial litigation is basically a catch-all group – for all litigation that doesn’t fall into a specialty.” As one source put it: “We tend to jump on anything involving massive contract disputes.” As is the case in other departments, there has been a concerted effort from the firm in the energy sector: “There is a big, considered effort, particularly in Texas, in energy. We are heavily involved in the oil and gas field, but they are increasingly getting involved in renewables.” For junior associates on the team, there is plenty of stock reviewing and interviewing, but as sources explained, “not every case is a $500 million case,” and there is room for more responsibility on some of the smaller cases: “On some of these cases, even those that went to trial, I was able to take charge of the day-to-day management of case preparation.” In fact, this was a running theme among those we spoke to: “The firm takes advantage of you and what you can do, regardless of class year.”

Commercial litigation clients: Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Texas Hospital Association, and Luminex. Represented Southwest Airlines in a putative class action claiming that Boeing and Southwest colluded to hide defects in a Boeing aircraft.

Career Development



Junior associates at Norton Rose Fulbright benefit from a strong mentorship program that is put in place the moment they start. Mentors at the firm are there to answer any questions the associates might have, but they are also there to help get new starters involved with the work that they are interested in. “In addition to the formal mentorship program, the general willingness of people who are not formal mentors to step up and help me is really great.” One associate spoke of weekly conversations with a partner to help clarify anything they were unsure about: “I talk for 30 minutes every week with a partner (who is not a formal mentor) to ask them any questions I have, or go over anything I need help with.” Similarly, with general career progression, sources found “they have a ton of resources,” but as for actually going forward, some felt “you are pretty much left to figure out those opportunities yourself.”

There is also a substantial amount of training for juniors: “Sometimes it feels like too much training! Lectures isn’t the quite the right word, but it’s a more formal, organized training – things like transaction boot camps, mock exercises, and there is a litigation lecture series.” The firm has even introduced a six-day program featuring an entire mock trial, which counts toward the billable hours of the first-year associates.

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 1,900 target (for full bonus)

Associates hoping for a full bonus at Norton Rose Fulbright will need to clock 1,900 hours, or 1,800 hours for half a bonus – something that the associates we spoke to were happy with: “I have friends elsewhere at mid-size firms who have worse targets.” That being said, there were some who were less pleased with the way that bonuses were handed out during the pandemic: “Norton Rose has always been pretty conservative fiscally,” one associate reflected. “The firm announced a COVID bonus, with a message thanking us all for our efforts throughout the pandemic. But there was an hours requirement tied to it...” The associates we spoke to were disappointed with this caveat: “It was really just tied to productivity, which felt like a contradiction.”

To balance this however, the associates were positive about the average hours they worked at the firm: “We are almost better than the market average, based on the billable amount that we have to do, so I’m definitely happy with that.” Associates told us that during a normal working week they would average around 50 hours, but while things can ramp up during busier periods, one source noted: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a terrible week.”

Culture



“The Texas culture of a willingness to help and work together really permeates through the firm internationally.”

“From my perspective if you are going through the recruitment process and deciding where to begin your career, look at the people behind the firm.” Sound advice from Jeff Cody, and it speaks into the emphasis Norton Rose Fulbright places on its firm culture: “In law school, you think that every law firm is going to be really competitive. It is in the sense that everyone wants to do the best that they can, but here, it’s not at the cost of your relationships with other people.” For the associates we spoke to, there is a noticeable similarity among the lawyers you speak to, whether it’s in London, Singapore or the US: “Everyone is really the same – willing to help. The Texas culture of a willingness to help and work together really permeates through the firm internationally.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



“Not that we weren’t already doing things, but things really ramped up after the protests around Black Lives Matter,” one associate recalled. As a part of its response, the firm introduced a racial equity council, which was something associates were quick to highlight: “The racial equity council has done great work in terms of tracking statistics, and making sure there is funding.” For managing partner Jeff Cody, it is one of the firm’s most important achievements, where he concludes that “we’ve seen a measurable improvement in client development opportunities for our Black lawyers.” This improvement can also be seen in Norton Rose Fulbright’s recruitment: “This summer, we brought on 11 of our 12 Black summer associates, and are waiting on a response from the twelfth after making an offer.”

Pro Bono



Across the firm, associates are able to clock up to 50 pro bono hours as a part of their billable hours requirement, but the firm does offer a discretionary bonus for those who have been involved with cases that have run on. “The people who are going to do pro bono are going to do it anyway, so it doesn’t deter anyone.” Perhaps even more importantly though, associates spoke of a willingness among partners to help on matters regardless of where they come from: “I get the same response from a senior associate for an urgent pro bono matter as I would a billable matter.” Pro bono matters are advertised via internal emails so attorneys can see if anything interests them. In the past, juniors had worked on asylum cases, various projects with the Houston Volunteer Lawyers organization, and updating wills, among other matters.

Pro bono hours

  • For all (US) attorneys: 17,002
  • Average per (US) attorney: 23

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1268

Number of interviews outside OCI and callbacks: undisclosed

Norton Rose Fulbright conducts OCIs and attends job fairs at over 40 law schools, and takes part in around 15 résumé collection programs. Its recruitment efforts encompass national and regional law schools, but the firm often focuses on schools which it’s had success with. “We also actively recruit judicial clerks, both those who have worked with us during the summer and former clerks looking to enter or return to private practice,” explains US hiring partner, Judi Archer. 

Throughout the year, Norton Rose Fulbright sponsors and participates in over 100 events with law schools and affinity groups to maintain ties with students throughout the 1L year and beyond: “We place a high value on building meaningful relationships with the students.” 

When it comes to OCIs, “We carefully select our campus interviewers to reflect the diversity across our offices, practice teams, lawyers and experience levels,” says Archer. “In many instances, we have law school alumni interviewing on campus. Students can expect to interface with representatives from our firm ranging from first-year lawyers to members of our management committee.”

Interviewers are likely to keep the conversation fairly ‘organic,’ but candidates can expect to be asked questions that will give the firm an understanding of their interest in Norton Rose Fulbright specifically, and of which practice areas the candidate has in mind. “The practice of law is challenging and exciting, but it is also hard work!” says Archer. “We seek candidates who demonstrate a commitment to excel, achieve success throughout their academic careers, exhibit entrepreneurial traits and demonstrate leadership abilities.”

Top tips for this stage: 

“While academic excellence – such as grades and class ranking – is one factor for getting hired, it is not the only one. Candidates should be able to articulate their experience, including how it ties into the practice of law and the development of business, show that they’ve done their research on the firm and understand our practices and the legal industry.  In addition, we are interested in hearing about candidates’ different life experiences and their path to the practice of law. We are not a one-size-fits-all firm.” – Judi Archer, US hiring partner 

Callbacks

Number of applicants invited to callbacks: undisclosed

Typically, the firm hosts Callback Days in some of its offices (during the pandemic, this process was conducted remotely). Groups of candidates will be given a presentation about the firm before going on to do one-to-one interviews with a panel of five lawyers. The questions are focused on eliciting responses which help the interviewers decide if a candidate aligns with the core competencies of associates at the firm. Norton Rose Fulbright also looks to learn more about the individual candidate and their passions outside law. Well-rounded students are the winners here.

Some offices host post-interview dinners with junior associates: “We encourage candidates to let us know if they have questions that might be best addressed by particular lawyers that may share their experiences, such as parents, women, lawyers of color, LGBTQIA+ lawyers, new lawyers, etc.,” says Archer.

Top tips for this stage: “Candidates should have a general idea of what type of law the interviewer practices and do some research about the firm. Law firms do not expect their candidates to possess encyclopaedic knowledge about the firm to demonstrate an interest. Candidates should take notes during OCI/job fair of what interests them about the firm during the initial meeting and reference those points during the callback interview. We are eager to hear how from students about their experiences and how they have shaped their development and will make them an important addition to our firm, as well as how their inclusion in the firm will benefit us and our clients.” -  Judi Archer, US hiring partner 

Summer program 

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances:  81

Archer tells us: “Our goal is to quickly integrate our summer associates into the firm by pairing them with mentors, offering training opportunities and giving them substantive work,” alongside introducing them to the social aspects of firm life throughout the program.  

Norton Rose Fulbright makes an effort to interview summers about the type of law they’re interested in so they can gain experience in those areas. Designated coordinators are on hand to make sure summers get out of the office at least once a week to attend client meetings, depositions, trials and hearings.  

The 2021 program was virtual. The 65 summers were involved in an array of firm-education activities, like local and nationwide D&I initiatives, legal skills seminars, professional development training and socials: “We hosted virtual firm alumni client panels throughout the summer, which not only provided valuable insight into the industries and companies we represent and support but also highlighted the strength of the firm’s alumni network,” says Archer. A high percentage of summers return to the firm as first-year associates.

Top tips for this stage: The summer associate program is a lengthy job interview which starts before candidates participate in OCI. Candidates are deciding if our firm is the best fit for them while, at the same time, we are evaluating summer associates to determine if they will fit and succeed at the firm: we expect our summer associates to produce exceptional work, demonstrate a can-do attitude and work ethic, show a true desire to practice law and succeed in doing so. And they need to get to know us. We do not expect our summer associates to show up with substantive knowledge of how to practice law. We show summer associates what it is truly like to be a lawyer at our firm so they can make a fully-informed decision about their future.” Judi Archer, US hiring partner

Final words of wisdom from Judi Archer: “Help us to see your talent, enthusiasm and dedication to the practice of law, our clients and our firm. We want bright and engaging candidates who are academically successful with a strong work ethic who will be good contributors and team players.”

A note on lateral hiring at Norton RoseFulbright: “We expect to continue to hire in areas where we see potential areas of growth. We expect to continue growing our disputes, business and intellectual property practices as our client needs expand,” explains Archer. The firm’s lateral hiring needs are driven by client demands and business need: in 2021, 34 attorneys joined the firm as lateral associates.

Norton Rose Fulbright

1301 McKinney,
Suite 5100,
Houston,
77010-3095

  • Head Office: N/A
  • Number of domestic offices: 12
  • Number of international offices: 41
  • Worldwide revenue: $1,877,933, 000
  • Partners (US): 301
  • Associates (US): 249
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Meredith Bond, Senior Manager,
  • Entry-Level Hiring Alice Bolander, Senior Lateral Recruiting Manager 
  • Hiring partner: Judi Archer
  • Diversity officer: Katherine Tapley
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 53
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 69
  • 3L-1; 2L-49; 1L-19
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office:
  • Austin (4); Dallas (14); Houston (24) ; LA (2); NY (12); San Antonio(4); St. Louis(1); DC (8)
  • Summer salary 2021:
  • 1Ls: $3,654/wk (CA, DC, NY, TX)
  • 2Ls: $3,654/wk (CA, DC, NY, TX)
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? No

Main areas of work



 Antitrust and competition; banking and finance; corporate, M&A and securities; dispute resolution and litigation; employment and labor; financial restructuring and insolvency; intellectual property; real estate; regulations and investigations; risk advisory; and tax.

Firm profile



 Norton Rose Fulbright provides the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. It has more than 3700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.

Recognized for its industry focus, Norton Rose Fulbright is strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare. Through its global risk advisory group, Norton Rose Fulbright leverages its industry experience with its knowledge of legal, regulatory, compliance and governance issues to provide clients with practical solutions to the legal and regulatory risks facing their businesses.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2021:
Baylor, Cardozo, Columbia, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Hofstra, Howard, Loyola (CA), NYU, Penn, South Texas College of Law, SMU, Texas Southern, Texas Tech, UC-Irvine, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Washington University, Yale

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Cornell (DC and NY job fairs), Emory Job Fair, Lavender Law, Loyola Patent Law, National Law School Consortium, NEBLSA Job fair, Notre Dame Interview Program, Penn Regional Job Fairs, SEMJF, Sunbelt, Vanderbilt Career Fairs, Washington University Walkaround Programs.

Summer associate profile:

We recruit motivated, energetic and personable individuals with whom we will enjoy practicing law. Candidates should have high academic achievement, maturity, and initiative. We also value other indicators of likely success at Norton Rose Fulbright, such as demonstrated leadership skills and an entrepreneurial outlook.

Summer program components:
Your summer experience will provide you with a realistic preview of what it is like to practice at Norton Rose Fulbright. You will do real work for real clients.

We offer sophisticated work, world-class learning and development and our lawyers are committed to teaching and mentoring. Our US Summer Associates are invited to participate in the Summer Associate Academy, a two day induction into the firm.

Social media



Recruitment website: joinus.nortonrosefulbright.com
Linkedin: nortonrosefulbright

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 5)
    • Healthcare (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Environment (Band 5)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Insurance (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 4)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • E-Discovery & Information Governance (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 4)
    • International Arbitration: Enforcement Spotlight Table
    • International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Projects: LNG (Band 1)
    • Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 3)
    • Projects: Power (Band 3)
    • Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional (Band 2)
    • Projects: PPP (Band 2)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 1)
    • Retail (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Aviation: Finance (Band 2)
    • Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Finance (Band 2)