Two Chauvin trial prosecutors join Norton Rose Fulbright in Minneapolis

Duo part of 11-strong group moving across from trial boutique led by celebrated lead prosecutor Jerry Blackwell
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – April 20, 2021: Demonstrators gather outside the Barclays Center after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

Demonstrators on the day of Chauvin's conviction in April last year Ben Von Klemperer; Shutterstock

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has hired an 11-strong litigation team from boutique trial firm Blackwell Burke in Minneapolis, including two members of the prosecution team that caught the world's attention during last year's trial of former policeman Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. 

The new arrivals include four partners – Jerry Alcazar, Jamal Faleel, Benjamin Hulse and Mary Young – and of counsel Corey Gordon, who along with six other colleagues join NRF’s commercial litigation and products, pharma, medical and mass tort teams.

Young and Gordon are notable for their pro bono work, recently serving as members of the team that secured Chauvin's conviction, when they 'applied their experience trying large, civil cases to synthesise complex medical issues in a way that was clear and understandable for the jury’, NRF said in a statement.

They appeared alongside Blackwell Burke co-founder and CEO Jerry Blackwell, the corporate defence lawyer who gained international recognition for his advocacy during the trial, winning praise from, among other news outlets, The New Yorker, which said he and fellow lead prosecutor Steve Schleicher ‘elicited mesmerising testimony from the witnesses’.

According to NRF, Blackwell is leaving private practice to pursue a career in public service. He said in a statement: "This group has been family to me and I will miss them. They have distinguished themselves in the profession by punching above their weight, achieving outstanding results in the cases that matter most across the country as well as in community service, year after year.”

Jeff Cody, Norton Rose Fulbright’s US managing partner, said: “Bringing in Jerry, Jamal, Ben and Mary, as well as their team – who regularly represent many of the Fortune 500 and have a client base that is highly complementary to ours – is an ideal match, as our firm has a long history of trial success and litigation excellence.”

The other new recruits include senior counsels Emily Ambrose, Andy Crowder and Charmaine Harris, senior associate Ted Hartman and associates Gene Hummel and Amarachi Ihejirika.

Tim Kenny, partner-in-charge of NRF’s Minneapolis office, said: “This dynamic team comes from a firm known for its high-profile litigation achievements and outstanding client service. Having collaborated as co-counsel with some of these lawyers, I have seen firsthand the excellence and professionalism they bring to Norton Rose Fulbright.”

The firm also pointed to the diversity of the new recruits, stating that the arrival of Alcazar, Faleel and Young meant that ‘seven of the 10 US lateral partners who have joined the firm in 2022 are diverse in race or gender’. It added: ‘In both 2020 and 2021, more than 40 percent of the US lateral partners added were diverse’.

Alcazar spent almost eight years at Blackwell, having joined from Robins Kaplan, where he also spent close to eight years. Likewise, Faleel spent almost eight years at Blackwell after a decade as a shareholder at Fredrikson & Byron. Meantime, Hulse and Young were both at Blackwell for close to 12 years. Hulse previously spent nearly seven years at Kirkland & Ellis, while Young joined after a roughly nine-year stretch at Lane Powell.

Last month, Norton Rose Fulbright named Houston-based partner Kevin O’Gorman as its next US head of international arbitration, while in January the firm made 54 partner promotions that were heavily weighted to North America.

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