Global 200 law firm Withers, building a network of U.S. offices for its private client practice, continues growth by moving into Texas with a Houston office launched by Winstead lawyer Kevin Keen, who seeks to bring his estate planning and tax practice to an international firm.
Withers, which has been in the U.S. market since 2002, will add more lawyers in Texas with the “specific skill set” the firm needs, said Jason “Jay” Dinwoodie, who is divisional chief executive officer of the private client and tax team.
“We are keeping an eye on interesting markets and opportunities. Texas is one of those markets we are keeping an eye on,” said New Haven, Connecticut-based Dinwoodie.
“We were looking for somebody like Kevin. We weren’t saying at the outset that we must be in Houston. We view the market in Texas, such as we do in California—to service the market we need a wide reach,” Dinwoodie said.
The practice CEO said he joined Withers in 2011, around the time it moved into the U.S. market by merging with Bergman, Horowitz & Reynolds, a tax boutique in New Haven. Since then, the firm expanded in that market with offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and New York, then four offices in California, and most recently in Boston.
In addition to the Texas expansion, employment lawyer Ann Wicks joined Withers on Monday as a partner in San Francisco, where she will help build the firm’s employment practice in California. She came to Withers after practicing at her own firm for 15 years, and at Big Law before that.
“My practice got to be too much for one person. I just got really busy,” she said. “I’ve always consulted with other law firms, but this one was different. The people were different, the work was different. It’s a more modern way to practice law,” she said.
She said she does management-side employment work, but also represents individuals and founders going into and coming out of companies. Investigations into alleged workplace misconduct, and reputation and crisis management, are other facets of her practice.
Wicks said her clients include executives in the entertainment and video game industries, and a number of company founders, along with companies in the video game, manufacturing, technology and software spaces.
“It took the right firm to bring me back to Big Law, and this is the right firm,” Wicks said of her decision to join Withers.
Keen, the Texas partner, said there is much opportunity in Houston to grow the private client practice, because the city is so diverse, and many of his clients are international.
“Obviously there’s a big Latin America and Mexican influence, but there’s also Asian,” Keen said about Houston.
Prior to joining Winstead as an associate in Houston and The Woodlands in 2018, Keen worked at Baker & McKenzie in Zurich, Switzerland, and Holland & Knight in Miami. He joined Withers earlier this year.
Keen said he needed the resources and reach of an international firm to represent his clients, which include affluent families and their family offices. Many of his clients are in Texas and Florida.
“Personally, I have several billionaire clients. It’s not just Texas clients, it’s also clients seeking to invest in the U.S.,” he said.