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McDermott Will & Emery plans to open a Houston outpost staffed with three energy lawyers who have defected from Bracewell & Giuliani. The McDermott firm, founded in Chicago, will expand its energy practice with Robert Stephens, David W. Locascio and Jose Luis Vittor, opening the office in March 3. In addition, Fay Morisseau, an intellectual property partner in the firm’s Orange County, Calif., office and tried cases in the Texas federal court’s Eastern District, will transfer to the Houston office to manage the operation. Paul Pantano, head of McDermott’s energy practice and based in Washington, said that the firm has been interested in opening an office in Houston, the center of the nation’s energy business, for several years. The firm carries an energy trading practice, representing financial institutions, commercial bands and energy trading companies. The new office will add to the firm’s energy transactions and international capabilities, he said. It will also allow the firm to add to its mergers and acquisitions and IP practices in Houston. Among the 1,170-lawyer firm’s energy clients are Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch Global Commodities, Citigroup Energy Inc., Barclays Bank, Constellation Energy Commodities and El Paso Corp.

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