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Half of the 48 lawyers at Dallas’ Touchstone, Bernays, Johnston, Beall & Smith plan to leave the firm at the end of January to open their own legal shop. “We wanted to build a firm of our own,” says Gregory Ave, a Touchstone Bernays partner who, along with seven other partners and 16 associates, is leaving to form Walters, Balido & Crain.

Ave will be Walters Balido’s managing partner. The defecting Touchstone Bernays partners — Ave, Randall Walters, Carlos Balido, Kelly Crain, Jerry Ewing, Todd Parks, David Bradley and Brett Hermes Payne — are all litigators who handle mostly insurance defense matters.

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