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Tired of cheap mansions, electricity-on-demand and red meat, a herd of Texas lawyers is headed west to open a San Francisco office. The team hails from Hughes & Luce, a 158-lawyer Dallas firm. And at the helm will be a recruit from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The office on California Street is set to open March 1. The full-service firm, which has about 70 partners and grossed $65 million in revenues in 1999, has been growing its technology transaction practice. And it already has some heavy-hitter tech clients on board. The firm took public Cnet Networks Inc., and it counts Electronic Data Systems Corp. and NBC Internet Inc. among its San Francisco Bay Area clients as well. Relocating from Austin is Hughes partner Andre Brunel, who represents NBC Internet. David Luther Jr., whose clients include KPMG Consulting, and David Bryant, former general counsel to Electronic Data Systems Corp., are moving in from Dallas. Managing partner of the office is Richard Picheny, a special counsel from Wilson. He is also a certified public accountant and worked for many years as a finance manager inside several operating companies before going to law school. At first glance, it seems like a rotten time to open a satellite in the Bay Area, with the Nasdaq dwindling and venture capital financings drying up. But Brunel said the new office is a long-term bet for the firm, and its existing West Coast tech clients, like EDS and NBC Internet, are more mature than the startups that other firms have been targeting as clients. “We’ve come to the point in our relationships with clients that [an office] is the next logical step,” Brunel said. Continuing in mildly cryptic fashion, Brunel said that a year or two years ago when the tech market was exploding, the firm’s relationships with its clients did not dictate opening a satellite. Picheny, who said he wasn’t looking to leave Wilson until a recruiter called with a shot at opening a new office, said he’s looking to the future, not at the current economic state. “We think the timing’s right,” said Picheny. “The next economy is going to have great potential.”

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