Highlights for 2020: phenomenal Q1 open; back half of the year nearly on par with 2019; M&A movement dominated; Dallas market heavily favored; a look back at recent years

WHAT WE’RE SEEING

As 2020 and all its upheavals melts into the start of 2021, there’s no denying it has been a remarkable year. But one of the most remarkable parts of 2020 for the lateral partner market in Texas is that it’s been…well, unremarkable. Lateral movements in Texas continued almost as normal (in terms of the volume) when compared with past years. Total lateral partner moves in 2020 were at 196, pretty close to 209 moves in 2019. 

Another sign of the “normalcy”: Law firms continued to open new offices in Texas. Shearman & Sterling; Baker & Hostetler; and Thompson Coburn in Dallas. Perkins Coie and Spencer Fane opened in Austin. And Balch and Bingham, and Frost Brown opened in Houston, to name a few. 

It begs the question of why this normalcy persisted in Texas in the face of a historically abnormal year. Texas was certainly not immune to the economic fallout that came with the pandemic, nor the changes in regulation, funding or business immigration. 

While we didn’t see the anticipated drop-off in lateral moves, we also didn’t see a consistent narrative shared across law firm clients and individual partners/groups last year. Every firm and every practice within the firms were hit by the pandemic differently. Whether an individual partner’s or group’s practice was heavily impacted one way or another depended very much on the impacts their clients were facing. Some firms had a challenging year in terms of meeting their revenue goals and profitability, others had their best year ever. 

With the austerity measures enacted (and often later retracted) by firms, changes in client demands and even the abrupt change to a virtual format, partners and groups did find it advantageous to move during the pandemic, and many firms were strategic and bullish about adding talent during this unique year. 

So while we didn’t necessarily see the strong shared trends as in other years, here’s what we saw from 2020’s raw data: 

To see the complete newsletter, with data and analysis for this quarter, click the button below. 

LIST OF PARTNER MOVES: Q4 OF 2020

Name
New Firm
Old Firm
Practice Area
City
Date Announced
Link
William SentellAkermanBaker McKenzieCommercial LitigationHouston12-18-2021https://www.akerman.com/en/firm/newsroom/akerman-expands-franchise-offering-in-texas-with-william-sentell.html
Paul GreenAlexander Dubose & JeffersonTexas Supreme Court AppellateSan Antonio10-06-2020https://adjtlaw.com/news/
Stephanie Bergeron PerdueBaker BottsTexas Commission on Environmental QualityEnvironmentalAustin12-01-2020https://www.bakerbotts.com/news/2020/12/former-deputy-executive-director-of-tceq--joins-baker-botts-in-austin
Matthew GibsonBarnes & ThornburgReed SmithIntellectual PropertyDallas10-27-2020https://btlaw.com/en/insights/news/2020/barnes-thornburg-adds-patent-attorney-matthew-gibson-in-dallas
Ryan AllenCokinos YoungCoats RoseCommercial LitigationDallas/Fort Worth11-23-2020https://www.cokinoslaw.com/cokinos-young-welcomes-three-new-attorneys-to-our-dfw-office/
Peter Wells Cokinos YoungDoyle, Restrepo, Harvin & RobbinsCommercial LitigationHouston10-13-2020https://www.cokinoslaw.com/established-and-accomplished-trial-lawyer-peter-wells-iv-joins-cokinos-young-in-houston/
Steven SmithDorsey & Whitney Frost Brown ToddReal EstateDallas11-20-2020https://www.dorsey.com/newsresources/news/press-releases/2020/11/real-estate-bankruptcy-attorney-steven-smith
Adam RaganFox RothschildHunton Andrews KurthCommercial LitigationDallas11-23-2020https://www.foxrothschild.com/news/litigation-partner-adam-c-ragan-joins-fox-in-dallas/
Richard StewartFrost Brown ToddAdams and ReeseCommercial LitigationHouston11-04-2020https://frostbrowntodd.com/frost-brown-todd-houston-office-adds-member-richard-a-stewart/
Carlos WhiteHusch Blackwell Frost Brown ToddFranchiseDallas11-02-2020https://www.huschblackwell.com/inthenews/carlos-white-adds-to-husch-blackwells-franchise-distribution-practice
Charles Harrell Jackson WalkerDuane MorrisCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston10-19-2020https://www.jw.com/news/welcome-charles-harrell-houston-corporate-securities-partner/
Laura FunkLewis BrisboisConifer Health SolutionsPrivacy & Data SecurityDallas11-17-2020https://lewisbrisbois.com/newsroom/news/lewis-brisbois-strengthens-data-privacy-cybersecurity-capabilities-in-dallas
Gislar DonnenbergLocke LordDLA PiperCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston10-15-2020https://www.lockelord.com/newsandevents/news/2020/10/new-partner-gislar-donnenberg
Larry MurphyMayer BrownFullstream Energy HoldingsCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston12-01-2020https://www.mayerbrown.com/en/news/2020/11/mayer-brown-continues-to-expand-its-houston-office-with-addition-of-partner-larry-murphy
Traci ClementsMcGinnis LochridgeFerguson Braswell Fraser KubastaLabor and EmploymentDallas12-07-2020http://www.mcginnislaw.com/news/post/mcginnis-lochridge-welcomes-traci-m.-clements-in-dallas
Stephen Fitzgerald Morgan LewisBaker BottsEnvironmentalDallas12-01-2020https://www.morganlewis.com/news/2020/12/morgan-lewis-expands-environmental-litigation-team-with-texas-partner-stephen-fitzgerald
Aaron GottliebMunck Wilson MandalaMcGlinchey StaffordCommercial LitigationDallas11-16-2020https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-welcomes-litigation-attorneys-aaron-gottlieb-and-michael-rose/
Ellen Van MeirNicolaides Fink Thorpe Michaelides SullivanThompson, Coe, Cousins & IronsCommercial LitigationDallas12-09-2020https://www.nicolaidesllp.com/news/nicolaides-fink-thorpe-michaelides-sullivan-llp-expands-to-dallas-with-addition-of-three-attorney-group
Mariah QuirozNicolaides Fink Thorpe Michaelides SullivanThompson, Coe, Cousins & IronsCommercial LitigationDallas12-09-2020https://www.nicolaidesllp.com/news/nicolaides-fink-thorpe-michaelides-sullivan-llp-expands-to-dallas-with-addition-of-three-attorney-group
Debra Gatison Hatter Norton Rose FulbrightClark HillCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston12-01-2020https://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/en-us/news/58cdd83b/corporate-ma-and-securities-partner-joins-norton-rose-fulbright-in-houston
Erick RobinsonPorter HedgesDunlap Bennett & LudwigIntellectual PropertyHouston12-01-2020https://www.porterhedges.com/newsroom-news-porter-hedges-expands-patent-litigation-practice-with
Aimee FaganSidley AustinMcKool SmithIntellectual PropertyDallas11-02-2020https://www.sidley.com/en/newslanding/newpressreleases/2020/11/sidley-continues-expansion-in-dallas-with-addition-of-patent-trial-partners-fagan-and-aurentz
Phillip AurentzSidley AustinMcKool SmithIntellectual PropertyDallas11-02-2020https://www.sidley.com/en/newslanding/newpressreleases/2020/11/sidley-continues-expansion-in-dallas-with-addition-of-patent-trial-partners-fagan-and-aurentz
Taylor WhiteWinsteadFoley & LardnerLabor and EmploymentDallas10-29-2020https://www.winstead.com/News/Firm-News/360402/Labor-and-Employment-Attorney-Taylor-E-White-Joins-Winstead