Gabe Vick (left) and Preston Kamin are new partners at Gray Reed McGraw in Houston, Tx.
Gabe Vick (left) and Preston Kamin are new partners at Gray Reed McGraw in Houston, Tx. (John Everett)

Due to an error by senior reporter Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, new partner statistics for Porter Hedges of Houston should have been included in the New Partners Survey.

Gray Reed & McGraw of Houston now elects new shareholders in the spring and fall instead of only once a year, giving Preston Kamin and Gabe Vick a big promotion earlier than they would have in the past.

Kyle Sanders, a member of Gray Reed’s executive committee, said the twice-a-year shareholder vote provides opportunity for associates like Kamin and Vick, who took the bar exam in February to become a shareholder earlier.

“We had the flexibility to do it because of the way we transition new shareholders into our compensation system,” Sanders said. “We determined it was kind of arbitrary … to require those who took the February bar to wait six months longer that those who took the July bar.”

Kamin and Vick are among the 128 associates promoted to partner in 2016 by 23 of the 25 largest firms in Texas. That 128-lawyer total is 26.7 percent higher than the 101 partners those firms made in 2015.

Data was not available from McKool Smith, and Gardere Wynne Sewell announces new partners after press time on March 10.

Twelve of the 23 firms elected more Texas partners in 2016 than in 2015, and seven firms elected fewer partners. Four firms elected the same number as the previous year. [See chart on this page.]

With seven new shareholders for 2016, compared with one in 2015, Gray Reed had the highest percentage increase in new partners in Texas in Texas Lawyer’s annual new partners report. The firm elected five new shareholders in the fall, effective Jan. 1, and then Vick and Kamin were elected in February, with their promotions effective July 1.

Vick said he’s pleased with the firm’s new shareholder policy, because it shows the firm is flexible and fair in how it treats associates.

Kamin said it’s apt that he and Vick were together at a Gray Reed firm retreat in Miami on Feb. 25 when they learned they were each tapped to be a shareholder, because they have been friends since they met on the first day of law school at South Texas College of Law.

“We just kind of looked back and thought we had a graduation party together eight years ago, and here we are elected to shareholder together,” he said.

Kamin said the firm’s shift to twice-a-year shareholder elections should help the firm in recruiting at law schools.

“It speaks to the culture of the firm,” he said.

Jessica Farley, a new partner in Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston, got her good news via a phone call from two partners she’s worked with for years, Stephen Dillard and Richard Krumholz.

Farley said it was a weekday evening in December, and she had just arrived home from work when she got the call. She said she was happy to have her husband, Chris, and their son in the room when she took the call, and they celebrated at home before Farley called her family.

The next day, Farley, who does mass tort and products liability litigation, said many people congratulated her in the office and she received calls from other partners. Her Mom and friends sent flowers to her office.

“I was so excited, so thrilled,” she said.

Farley said she took a job at the firm’s Houston office in 2005—it was then Fulbright & Jaworski—after graduating from the University of Houston Law Center. However, before law school, Farley said she worked as a project assistant at the firm’s Austin office, where she fell in love with products liability work and the firm.

Farley is one of 10 new Norton Rose Fulbright partners in Texas. Her firm and Haynes and Boone each made 10 partners in Texas in 2016, while Andrews Kurth, Baker & McKenzie and Jackson Walker each made nine in Texas.

Ellen McGinnis, chair of the Haynes and Boone admission to partnership committee, said an “exceptionally good group” of associates were up for partner this year. Haynes and Boone has had pretty large classes the last several years, she said, due to the firm’s attention to attorney development in the few years prior to when associates are up for partner.

“People are really prepared,” said McGinnis, a partner in Washington, D.C.

Kristina Trauger, a new Haynes and Boone partner in the capital markets and securities, mergers and acquisitions and energy practice group, said she is a lateral hire who joined the firm as an associate after moving to Houston from the northeast so her husband could attend business school at Rice University. She said she interviewed at a number of firms in Houston but quickly knew that Haynes and Boone was her pick. Two and a half years later, Trauger said, she made partner.

“It showed that it was a good fit for me,” she said.

Krumholz, a Norton Rose partner in Dallas who is on the partner review committee and head of dispute resolution and litigation in the United States, said his firm revamped its attorney development program in 2007, and that effort has paid off with a large partner class this year.

“It was a group of superstars. We saw them coming. We knew it was a larger class. We knew it would be a class that would break the mold of the number of partners we would typically make,” he said.

While seven firms made fewer partners, each of those firms did promote some associates to partner. Andrews Kurth had the biggest decline in new Texas partners in 2015, making two new partners, compared with eight in 2014. But in 2016, the firm came back with nine new partners in Texas, including six women.

“We had some stellar candidates” up for partner this year, including an abundance of women, said Robin Russell, managing partner of the Houston office and a member of the committee that makes partner recommendations. She notes that at least two of the women just promoted to partner had “nontraditional” career paths, and three of them at some point in their career used a flexible work schedule.

Russell said she recalls when she interviewed at Andrews Kurth 28 years ago, she was impressed by the number of successful women lawyers at the firm, and it’s exciting to see a partner class with so many women.

“I don’t think it’s surprising to any of us, because the promotion of women, that’s nothing new around here,” Russell said.

New partner Michelle Scheffler, a litigator, said the firm’s culture encourages the growth of all lawyers. “Andrews Kurth is not a face-time place—it’s a get your work done, great client service place,” she said, noting that she had three children in four years right before she made partner.

At Strasburger & Price, all three new partners are women.

The 23 firms named 40 women partners in 2016, compared with 29 in 2015, and women comprise 31.3 percent of the new Texas partners at the 23 firms. The firms made 13 minority partners in 2016, and 16 the year before, and minorities make up 10.2 percent of the new Texas partners. [See chart on page 15.]

Of the new partners whose graduation date could be determined, the largest group, 48, graduated from law school in 2007, and the next largest group graduated in 2006. [See chart on page 15.]

Most of the new partners went to Texas law schools, and the University of Texas School of Law had the most graduates among the 2016 new partner class. [See chart on page 15.]

As for practice areas of the new partners, the largest groups are litigation and corporate and securities. [See chart on page 17.]

Due to an error by senior reporter Brenda Sapino Jeffreys , new partner statistics for Porter Hedges of Houston should have been included in the New Partners Survey.

Gray Reed & McGraw of Houston now elects new shareholders in the spring and fall instead of only once a year, giving Preston Kamin and Gabe Vick a big promotion earlier than they would have in the past.

Kyle Sanders , a member of Gray Reed ‘s executive committee, said the twice-a-year shareholder vote provides opportunity for associates like Kamin and Vick , who took the bar exam in February to become a shareholder earlier.

“We had the flexibility to do it because of the way we transition new shareholders into our compensation system,” Sanders said. “We determined it was kind of arbitrary … to require those who took the February bar to wait six months longer that those who took the July bar.”

Kamin and Vick are among the 128 associates promoted to partner in 2016 by 23 of the 25 largest firms in Texas . That 128-lawyer total is 26.7 percent higher than the 101 partners those firms made in 2015 .

Data was not available from McKool Smith , and Gardere Wynne Sewell announces new partners after press time on March 10 .

Twelve of the 23 firms elected more Texas partners in 2016 than in 2015 , and seven firms elected fewer partners. Four firms elected the same number as the previous year . [See chart on this page.]

With seven new shareholders for 2016 , compared with one in 2015 , Gray Reed had the highest percentage increase in new partners in Texas in Texas Lawyer ‘s annual new partners report. The firm elected five new shareholders in the fall , effective Jan. 1 , and then Vick and Kamin were elected in February , with their promotions effective July 1 .

Vick said he’s pleased with the firm’s new shareholder policy, because it shows the firm is flexible and fair in how it treats associates.

Kamin said it’s apt that he and Vick were together at a Gray Reed firm retreat in Miami on Feb. 25 when they learned they were each tapped to be a shareholder, because they have been friends since they met on the first day of law school at South Texas College of Law .

“We just kind of looked back and thought we had a graduation party together eight years ago , and here we are elected to shareholder together,” he said.

Kamin said the firm’s shift to twice-a-year shareholder elections should help the firm in recruiting at law schools.

“It speaks to the culture of the firm,” he said.

Jessica Farley , a new partner in Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston , got her good news via a phone call from two partners she’s worked with for years, Stephen Dillard and Richard Krumholz .

Farley said it was a weekday evening in December , and she had just arrived home from work when she got the call. She said she was happy to have her husband, Chris, and their son in the room when she took the call, and they celebrated at home before Farley called her family.

The next day , Farley , who does mass tort and products liability litigation, said many people congratulated her in the office and she received calls from other partners. Her Mom and friends sent flowers to her office.

“I was so excited, so thrilled,” she said.

Farley said she took a job at the firm’s Houston office in 2005—it was then Fulbright & Jaworski—after graduating from the University of Houston Law Center . However, before law school, Farley said she worked as a project assistant at the firm’s Austin office, where she fell in love with products liability work and the firm.

Farley is one of 10 new Norton Rose Fulbright partners in Texas . Her firm and Haynes and Boone each made 10 partners in Texas in 2016 , while Andrews Kurth , Baker & McKenzie and Jackson Walker each made nine in Texas .

Ellen McGinnis , chair of the Haynes and Boone admission to partnership committee, said an “exceptionally good group” of associates were up for partner this year . Haynes and Boone has had pretty large classes the last several years, she said, due to the firm’s attention to attorney development in the few years prior to when associates are up for partner.

“People are really prepared,” said McGinnis , a partner in Washington , D.C.

Kristina Trauger , a new Haynes and Boone partner in the capital markets and securities, mergers and acquisitions and energy practice group, said she is a lateral hire who joined the firm as an associate after moving to Houston from the northeast so her husband could attend business school at Rice University . She said she interviewed at a number of firms in Houston but quickly knew that Haynes and Boone was her pick. Two and a half years later , Trauger said, she made partner.

“It showed that it was a good fit for me,” she said.

Krumholz , a Norton Rose partner in Dallas who is on the partner review committee and head of dispute resolution and litigation in the United States , said his firm revamped its attorney development program in 2007 , and that effort has paid off with a large partner class this year .

“It was a group of superstars. We saw them coming. We knew it was a larger class. We knew it would be a class that would break the mold of the number of partners we would typically make,” he said.

While seven firms made fewer partners, each of those firms did promote some associates to partner. Andrews Kurth had the biggest decline in new Texas partners in 2015 , making two new partners, compared with eight in 2014 . But in 2016 , the firm came back with nine new partners in Texas , including six women.

“We had some stellar candidates” up for partner this year , including an abundance of women, said Robin Russell , managing partner of the Houston office and a member of the committee that makes partner recommendations. She notes that at least two of the women just promoted to partner had “nontraditional” career paths, and three of them at some point in their career used a flexible work schedule.

Russell said she recalls when she interviewed at Andrews Kurth 28 years ago , she was impressed by the number of successful women lawyers at the firm, and it’s exciting to see a partner class with so many women.

“I don’t think it’s surprising to any of us, because the promotion of women, that’s nothing new around here,” Russell said.

New partner Michelle Scheffler , a litigator, said the firm’s culture encourages the growth of all lawyers . “ Andrews Kurth is not a face-time place—it’s a get your work done, great client service place,” she said, noting that she had three children in four years right before she made partner.

At Strasburger & Price , all three new partners are women.

The 23 firms named 40 women partners in 2016 , compared with 29 in 2015 , and women comprise 31.3 percent of the new Texas partners at the 23 firms. The firms made 13 minority partners in 2016 , and 16 the year before , and minorities make up 10.2 percent of the new Texas partners. [See chart on page 15.]

Of the new partners whose graduation date could be determined, the largest group, 48, graduated from law school in 2007 , and the next largest group graduated in 2006 . [See chart on page 15.]

Most of the new partners went to Texas law schools, and the University of Texas School of Law had the most graduates among the 2016 new partner class. [See chart on page 15.]

As for practice areas of the new partners, the largest groups are litigation and corporate and securities. [See chart on page 17.]