Norton Rose Fulbright to open first Chicago office in Fulton Market

“Chicago is a hot spot for innovation, and we are eager to serve the city’s thriving business community across a host of practices in transformative sectors,” Gina Shishima, the firm’s chief strategy and operations partner, said in a statement. “The Fulton Market District is a symbol of transformation in Chicago, and making this burgeoning tech environment our home is our way of building a diverse and differentiated presence in the city that we hope is inspiring and refreshing to clients and lateral candidates alike.”

It’s the latest firm hoping to capitalize on Chicago’s startup potential. Cooley, a Silicon Valley-based firm renowned for representing tech companies and unicorns, came to town in May and opened its first office here. It was on pace to add at least 40 attorneys last fall when it moved into a 30,000 square-foot space at the Bank of America Tower.

The firm’s selection of Fulton Market sends a strong message to the tech clients it’s courting. Google and Dyson already have headquarters there, and Moline-based Deere is hiring 150 tech workers for the new office it’s opening. But the location may be less enticing for recruiting more partners, who often commute from the suburbs, because there’s no proximate Metra station, though one has been proposed near Ashland and Ogden avenues.

If the lease is finalized, it would notch an important victory for Fulton Street Cos., the Chicago developer that recently completed the 150,000-square-foot building without any tenants signed.

Other developers have similarly built offices in the trendy former meatpacking district on speculation and eventually filled them with tenants despite a sluggish leasing environment elsewhere downtown during the pandemic.

Fulton Street Cos. is one of the busiest developers in Fulton Market, with other projects planned including a 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use complex on the 1200 block of Fulton.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s first Chicago outpost includes partners hired from K&L Gates, DLA Piper and Polsinelli. It is the 13th largest firm in the U.S. by revenue and 18th in the world, according to The American Lawyer, and turned $1.9 billion in revenue in 2021. It has 53 global office locations, and Chicago will be its 12th in the U.S.

Adding a Chicago office is part of Norton Rose Fulbright’s strategic growth plan that has emphasized increasing operations in the Midwest. The firm more than doubled an office in Minneapolis earlier this month by adding 11 attorneys.

“Our Chicago office is part of our Midwest growth and will act as an innovation hub, serving clients focused on the evolution of modern business who will benefit from our sophisticated counsel and unparalleled global platform,” Jeff Cody, the firm’s U.S. managing partner, said in a statement.

Chicago brokerage Madison Rose oversees leasing at the 1045 W. Fulton Market St. building.