Norton Rose Fulbright
Friendly folks at your full-service
NRF is one of the larger truly global firms that operates in Australia, being one of the top 10 law firms globally by numbers and revenue. What we mean by this, is that unlike other firms that might have a focus on Europe or Asia, NRF has a reputable presence around the world (including the massive US and UK legal markets). Don’t get us wrong though, this doesn’t make the firm any more prestigious or reputable than any other firm in Australia, but does mean that it is a solid full-service law firm that gives you all you would expect from a firm under the biglaw model. In terms of its Australian office, we think it would position itself firmly below the upper mid-tiers (G+T, Corrs) and above the national mid-tiers (HWLE, Piper Alderman etc).
In the past few years, NRF has been going through a massive growth phase, merging with Henry Davis York in 2017, a then-reputable independent Australian law firm known for its insolvency and restructuring practice. Whilst a fair few HDY partners never signed the merger agreement, the merger bolstered NRF’s position as a force to be reckoned with amongst the law firms. This year, NRF took on 89 graduates, doubling their numbers from last year, and demonstrating the appetite and capabilities that it has to take up a larger share of the legal market. In fact, NRF advised Vodafone on the largest M&A deal in the Australian market last year, the $15bn merger between Vodafone and TPG, which usually would have been snatched up by a Big 6 firm. Perhaps though, it was its strong UK roots that got it over the line in this case.
We have been told that NRF is a friendly place to work, and where people are generally quite nice and pleasant to deal with. However, the firm could place a greater emphasis on mentoring the young lawyers in the firm, and ensuring that enough guidance is given to them to ensure they are fully equipped to tackle their work. There are particular teams however where you can expect to work with close to the best in the market, namely in the TMET, Real Estate, Restructuring and Insolvency, and Government teams (all Band 2s in the Chambers rankings). NRF will provide a great experience for any lawyer, but these practice areas especially shine for the firm.
We don’t have precise details about the salaries at NRF but are aware that the remuneration is set at a competitive level compared to other mid-tier and international firms. While at the junior levels, the pay is progressed on a lockstep basis, once you reach Senior Associate and above, this becomes more about how good you are and the billables you are able to churn out. All in all though, NRF is a great option if you want a biglaw experience at a truly global firm. The hours will vary but will generally be better than a top tier firm. And given that you will naturally do less intense (and arguably less complex) matters here… with the odd exception, NRF is as good a brand as any other non-Big 6 firm to throw onto the resume.