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Houston-based Andrews & Kurth scored a major coup by picking up nine public-law attorneys from Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, also based in Houston. The partners are Gene L. Locke and Bob Collie, both former Houston city attorneys, and Rick Witte, Kathryn V. Garner and Mark Arnold. The partners joined Andrews & Kurth on March 13. They were joined on March 15 by four other public-law/public finance lawyers from Mayor Day. They are associates James Hernandez and Margo Madole, of counsel Cheryl Rosenberg and Austin-based associate Jerry Kyle Jr. Mayor Day managing partner Jonathan Day says the 107-lawyer firm retains a public law and public finance practice, with six partners and several associates working in that area. Day, also a former Houston city attorney, does public law. He represented the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority in a court battle attempting to prevent construction of a light-rail line. planned to run from downtown Houston to the Reliant Park/Astrodome complex. Collie, one of the founding partners of 19-year-old Mayor Day, says the public-law partners are moving to Andrews & Kurth because they believe the firm will provide them a better platform to expand their practice statewide. Andrews & Kurth has eight offices, including one in Dallas and a new one in Austin. Mayor Day’s only branch office is in Austin. Witte says that while the public-law group has done some work in Dallas, it was difficult, without an office there, to represent governmental entities in North Texas selling municipal bonds. While public law includes litigation, tax and general counsel work for governmental entities, municipal bond work is a part of the practice. A handful of firms in Texas do the lion’s share of the municipal bond work; the players other than Mayor Day are Houston-based firms V&E and Fulbright & Jaworski, Dallas public-law boutique McCall, Parkhurst & Horton and Houston’s Wickliff & Hall. Clients of the public-law group that joined Andrews & Kurth on March 13 include the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the City of Houston, Harris County, the Port of Houston, Metro, the City of Pasadena and school districts including the Houston Independent School District. The group also represented underwriters of municipal bonds. Day says partners in Mayor Day considered a year or so ago opening an office in Dallas, but were reluctant to do so solely for the municipal-finance practice. ON THE LIST Howard Ayers, managing partner of 242-lawyer Andrews & Kurth, says the firm’s partners voted in December 2000 to remain independent and actively expand the firm’s bankruptcy, transactional and litigation groups. The public-law group at Mayor Day was high on the firm’s list of expansion targets, he says. Ayers says the Andrews & Kurth partners set aside cash in 2000 to fund growth in 2001. He says the public-law partners not only bring a new practice area to the firm — the firm doesn’t have a public law section — but also some age and experience to the firm, which is demographically young. On average, partners in Andrews & Kurth are in their mid-40s. Locke is joining Andrews & Kurth’s management committee. Talks between the public-law lawyers and lawyers from Andrews & Kurth started more than a month ago. The nitty-gritty negotiations were between Collie, Locke and Witte on one side, and two members of Andrews & Kurth’s management committee, corporate partner Robert Jewell and business transactions partner David Runnels, on the other. Ayers says the talks between those lawyers did not include the possibility of a merger between the firms, a scenario widely rumored in Houston for at least two weeks before the public-law group left Mayor Day. He declines to discuss any other ongoing talks that would lead to growth for Andrews & Kurth. Day also declines to talk about merger negotiations. “We are considering lots of different possibilities. The primary one is to simply keep doing what we’re doing,” he says. Ayers says the public-law practice is complementary to Andrews & Kurth’s existing practices in areas including corporate finance and securities, tax and real estate. That synergy can lead to the financial benefits of cross selling. Ayers says Andrews & Kurth is formally opening its Austin office this week partly because of the deal with the Mayor Day group. The firms’ partners recently voted in favor of opening the office, he says.

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