How does a Texas law firm elbow its way into New Orleans’ tight-knit legal community? By scooping up one of the Big Easy’s oldest firms, bien sûr.

That’s what Houston-based Beirne, Maynard & Parsons did in January, acquiring Lemle & Kelleher, a 120-year-old law firm with 19 attorneys in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

Beirne Maynard, historically a litigation shop with about 60 lawyers, wants to diversify its practice areas and sees Lemle’s energy-sector transactional work as one way to achieve that goal. The strategy included luring Marcos Ronquillo, former name partner at the Dallas boutique now called Godwin Lewis, from his firm in November. Ronquillo focuses on international business law, mainly in Latin America.

The National Law Journal spoke with Beirne Maynard managing partner Brit Brown about the firm’s plans. The remarks below have been edited for clarity and length.

NLJ: Why New Orleans and why now?

Brit Brown: We’ve been working in those areas, but it’s become more difficult to service the clients we have. We’re servicing large energy clients, but it’s not just energy that we’re interested in. There’s transactional and finance work, employment, admiralty, securities.

NLJ: Why snag an entire firm? Why not cherry pick from the New Orleans market?

Brit Brown: We wanted a group that had relationships with the community, relationships with clients, to give us a foothold in the region. A lot of our lawyers had gotten to know the attorneys at Lemle Kelleher. We trusted them. We knew how they would fit in. We also know that they’ll change the firm as much as we’ll change them.

NLJ: Did the New Orleans office want to retain a part of the Lemle Kelleher name?

Brit Brown: Not that I recall. The Lemle Kelleher name is very proud name; it’s a proud legacy. At least in the discussions I was involved in, it was always going to be Beirne Maynard.

NLJ: Where else to you want to expand?

Brit Brown: The places are fairly logical for us — Alabama, Mississippi. Those areas have transaction needs.

NLJ: How big do you expect to be by this time next year?

Brit Brown: Our target is not based on the number of lawyers, but I know we’ll be closer to 100.

Contact Leigh Jones at ljones@alm.com.