Chambers Global 2021 highlights our cross-border strengths

Norton Rose Fulbright ranked first among all law firms with 18 ranked lawyers in the Chambers Global 2021 global-wide practice rankings, as well as standing in the top 10 for total number of global-wide departmental practice rankings, practice rankings across all categories and lawyers ranked overall.

The firm earned 22 global-wide practice rankings, and was ranked in 185 practice areas across all categories, including global-wide and country-specific. The 185 practice area rankings include 16 top tier rankings in China, Greece, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

A total of 234 Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers were individually ranked as leaders in their field. The firm also picked up six new departmental rankings in Africa, Latin America, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States.

In its analysis, Chambers cited clients who provided feedback on the firm’s work, praising its extensive global reach.

“The (Norton Rose Fulbright) international network has become an increasingly important component of their service delivery as cross-border business grows,” one client told Chambers. Another praised the firm’s “ability to function seamlessly with team members in different offices and across time zones.”

A full list of our rankings is available online.

Chicago Partners Again Honoured as Notable Minorities in Law

For the second consecutive year, Crain’s Chicago Business has named partners Zulf Bokhari, Roderick Branch, and Robert Fernandez to its Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting, and Law 2020 list. The honourees are recognised for having “overcome challenges and bias to rise to the top of their professions” through both their practice work and efforts to advance diversity and inclusion.

Bokhari, a member of Latham’s Banking Practice, represents leading commercial and investment banks in the syndicated loan markets, often advising on cross-border financings for working capital, acquisitions, and other purposes. A profile published by Crain’s highlighted his recent representation of a major US bank on multiple transactions, including as lead agent/arranger and lender in US$2 billion revolving credit facilities for a global health care company and related financings for its European operations. Crain’s also noted his role on the advisory board of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Branch, a member of Latham’s Capital Markets and Latin America Practices, advises on capital markets transactions, with a focus on securities offerings by non-U.S. issuers. His published profile featured Branch’s recent representations of IEnova, Mexico’s largest private-sector energy company, in an US$800 million bond offering, Aon in a US$1 billion senior note financing, Hyatt Hotels in bond financings of US$1.65 billion, and Cars.com in its debut US$400 million high-yield financing. Branch is the immediate past Chicago office leader of Latham’s Hispanic/Latin American Lawyers Group, and he leads the firm’s International Visiting Associate program, through which law firm associates join Latham full time for a year. In 2020, Branch was also named to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra board of trustees.

Fernandez, a member of Latham’s Real Estate Practice, specialises in financings, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, commercial leasing, and real estate development. His profile in Crain’s noted his recent advise to institutional investors on joint ventures in connection with multifamily, student housing, industrial, and large mixed use developments. For example, he advised a hedge fund in connection with a large office tower lease in Chicago, and a real estate investment and hospitality management company on a joint venture to acquire a Las Vegas hotel and casino. Fernandez is a member of Latham’s Global Diversity Leadership committee and is Chicago office leader of the firm’s Hispanic/Latin American Lawyers Group. He also serves on the Civic Federation board in Chicago.

In addition to the trio being selected among the 2019 Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting, and Law honourees, Bokhari and Branch were also previously included in Crain’s predecessor lists of the Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago in 2017 and 2018.

DLA Piper helps build pro bono culture in Colombia

New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s non-profit affiliate that provides long-term pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions around the world, recently taught an online seminar on pro bono to more than 30 undergraduate law students at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia.

During the course, which was held on November 18, Lisa Dewey, DLA Piper’s pro bono partner and director of New Perimeter, and Sara Andrews, senior international pro bono counsel and assistant director of New Perimeter, spoke to the participating students about the importance of pro bono legal work and how they can get involved in pro bono over the course of their legal careers.

The project is part of an eight-year relationship between New Perimeter, the Universidad del Rosario and Fundación Pro Bono Colombia to encourage and help create a culture of pro bono in Colombia. Over the course of the collaboration, New Perimeter has sent lawyers to Colombia to teach law students and practicing lawyers about legal social responsibility, the use of pro bono to address unmet legal needs and increase access to justice, and the history of pro bono in the United States and around the world. This is the first time New Perimeter connected virtually with Colombian students.

“It is always a pleasure to speak to Colombian law students about pro bono,” Dewey said. “Even though we weren’t able to be there in person this year, it was exciting to connect virtually to hear about the important issues the students are passionate about and how they plan to use their legal degrees to make a difference in Colombia.”

Practical Completion and Defect Liability Period Under Nigerian Law

Though the date of practical completion is of great importance to a building project, it does not have a unanimous definition. Generally, the date of practical completion is not merely the date in which the Client takes over possession of the building. In fact, practical completion may be achieved without the Client taking over physical possession of the building.

Technically and legally, practical completion is the date when the responsibility of insurance, security and maintenance of the building passes from the Contractor to the Client; the Client pays the contract retention sum to the Contractor and the defect liability period begins to run.

A Construction Agreement may provide for practical completion of a building or it may be inferred from the conduct of the parties or deemed upon the happening of an event. The defect liability period is a period for the Contractor to rectify the latent defects it discovers in the building or brought to his attention by the architect or Client’s agent on the building project.

Practically, the date of practical completion of the building is the date in which the works are reasonably ready for its intended use even though there may be outstanding snags or defects. In essence, practical completion is achieved where construction is completed and there are no patent defects in the construction of the building.

It is easier to ascertain the date of practical completion where the Construction Agreement clearly spells out same. Most Construction Agreements usually provide for the architect or the Client’s agent on the project to issue a Certificate confirming practical completion of the works under the Agreement. But what happens where there is no Agreement defining the date or medium to signal practical completion or the architect or Client’s agent on the project refuses to issue a Certificate of practical completion of the construction works in the building even though same has been achieved?

In such an instance, practical completion would be deemed from the intention of the parties which can be inferred from their conducts. For instance, if the Contractor informs the architect or Client’s agent on the project that he has completed the construction works and the architect or Client’s agents submits a list of latent defects on the project to the Contractor, practical completion is deemed to have taken place and the defect liability period shall begin from that date.

Upon completion of the rectification works submitted to the Contractor by the architect or Client’s agent, the defects liability period shall come to an end and the Contractor will ordinarily not be liable to carry out further maintenance works on the building.

However, where there are patent defects on the project, it is the responsibility of the Contractor to rectify the patent defects on the building before practical completion will be deemed and the defect liability period begins. For instance if Mr Tanko Ahmed employ Main Construction Limited to construct a 4 storey building and upon completion of construction, the parties discover that the walls are cracked or the ceilings are licking, Main Construction Limited would have to effectively rectify the cracked walls and licking ceilings before practical completion will be deemed and the defect liability period would begin.

Again where there is no Agreement on the duration of the defect liability period, it may be deemed from the conducts of the parties. For instance, if upon practical completion, the Client informs the Contractor that he will take over possession of the project after the rainy season. The rainy season constitutes the defect liability period. The end of the rainy season signifies the expiration of the defect liability period and the Contractor will no longer be liable to carry out maintenance works on the building.

This is because the Contractor cannot maintain the building project indefinitely. Even the law does not expect that. In such a circumstance, after the rainy season, the Contractor should advise the Client to immediately take possession of the building because practical completion of the building has been achieved and the defect liability period has ended. The Contractor is legally entitled to withdraw from the building and send the keys of the building to the architect or Client’s agent.

Oxana Balayan named among the Top 30 Women in Law

Hogan Lovells partner Oxana Balayan has been named in the ‘Women Who Will’ 2020 report by Obelisk Support and Next 100 Years who champion the talent and potential of women in law around the world. The award recognises the top 30 women of the legal in-house community, private practice and other change makers from within the industry, with nominations being accepted from senior General Counsel and other senior leaders in law.

Clients, including LSE listed Polymetal International plc, a global leader in the production of gold and silver, nominated Oxana Balayan for her ‘inspiring leadership’, ‘fantastic and innovative achievements’ and ‘legendary dedication to clients’.

Hogan Lovells commitment to diversity and inclusion is integral to our success as a global law firm. Oxana Balayan has been a poster-woman for gender equality in Europe and Russia for many years. Oxana leads the Corporate and Finance practice in Russia and CIS at Hogan Lovells, is a successful business woman, a mother of two great children, a marathon runner and a relentless gender equality fighter.

At Hogan Lovells, we fully support this report which aims to shine a light on talented individuals and on the gender diversity of leadership in law and why it matters. Hogan Lovells vision is to become the market leader in D&I, and to create an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive and belong.

Texas Super Lawyers recognises two Eversheds Sutherland partners

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that Partners Scott R. McLaughlin and Lino Mendiola III have been selected as top attorneys in the state by Super Lawyers. The designations are the result of an annual survey conducted by the publication, which focuses on professional achievement and peer recognition.

Mr. McLaughlin, a partner in the Houston office, is widely recognised as an authority for bet-the-company labour and employment cases. A “go-to” litigator for clients facing trade secret, fiduciary, discrimination, wage and hour, and “C-Suite” matters, he also has deep traditional labour experience, having handled litigation against unions, union elections supervised by the National Labour Relations Board, strikes and many labour arbitrations. Mr. McLaughlin regularly files lawsuits under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to recover information misappropriated by departing employees and has vast related experience in gathering, securing and preserving electronic evidence. He also has extensive experience in conducting internal sexual harassment, discrimination and fraud investigations, and provides day-to-day labour and employment advice and counsel to clients. With a national litigation practice, Mr. McLaughlin has a successful track record for defending Fortune 200 companies in multimillion-dollar claims before state and federal courts in numerous trials and arbitrations.

Mr. Mendiola, a partner in the Austin office and member of the US Executive Committee, advises clients in both litigation and transactional matters involving energy and regulatory law with a focus on the Texas electric energy market. With more than 24 years of commercial and regulatory litigation experience, Mr. Mendiola represents utilities, private equity investors and other clients in state and federal court and before the Public Utility Commission of Texas and other state agencies. He also advises clients on the regulatory aspects of complex energy transactions, including infrastructure development, asset sales and joint ownership arrangements. Additionally, Mr. Mendiola frequently counsels clients on state and federal contracting and procurement law, and advises governments and businesses on procurement and contracting matters, such as DBE/HUB/MBE/WBE regulatory compliance, supplier diversity program development, and issues relating to diversity, inclusion and affirmative action. He is nationally recognised in designing, implementing and defending affirmative action programs and routinely offers legal advice in disputes involving procurement policies.