Blank Rome has absorbed the entirety of Houston-based law firm Bell, Ryniker & Letourneau. The acquisition has brought all eight of the maritime boutique’s lawyers to Blank Rome’s two-year-old Houston office, including partners MICHAEL BELL, KEITH LETOURNEAU, and DOUGLAS SHOEMAKER.

The others lawyers joining Blank Rome are ROBERT RYNIKER and JAMES ARNOLD as of counsel, as well as three associates.

The hires comes days after Blank Rome confirmed that it is closing its Hong Kong office, an outpost that sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer reports was originally conceived to expand its maritime law practice.

In other Churn news . . .

In advance of plans to close an office in Aventura, Florida, and relocate that branch to Fort Lauderdale, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has hired PHILIP HANAKA as a shareholder. Hanaka previously worked at Angelo & Banta and will now practice for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's financial services group.

Eight lawyers have left Vinson & Elkins to form a boutique called Caldwell Boudreaux Lefler in Houston. The new partners are CHARLES CALDWELL, MICHELLE BOUDREAUX, DEAN LEFLER, ALBERT TABOR, AMY HOFF, and ELIZABETH KOHLHAUSEN. JOHN ROBINSON will be of counsel and DEBORAH REPMAN will be counsel. The boutique will focus on energy regulatory work for the oil pipeline industry. The Texas Lawyer has more on the new firm.

In Boston, Cooley has hired JOSEPH TEJA JR. from Foley & Lardner. Teja specializes in patent counseling and prosecution, particularly for the electrical engineering, computer science, physics, and clean energy industries.

Dentons has added new partner ANDREW SCHIFRIN to its New York office from Dickstein Shapiro. Schifrin joins the firm's energy, transportation, and infrastructure practice.

Former Dentons associate JOHN HOLAHAN has also returned to the firm as a partner in the capital markets practice in Washington, D.C. He had previously worked at Dentons until May 2011, when he left for DLA Piper.

Dickinson Wright's Columbus office has added former Eastman & Smith lawyer AMY BORMAN as a member. Borman represents educational institutions in state and federal compliance matters.

DAVID DURHAM is the newest partner at DLA Piper in San Francisco. Durham, who focuses on traditional labor and employment matters, comes to the firm from Arnold & Porter.

WILLIAM KOLASKY has left Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr for Hughes Hubbard & Reed. He will be a partner in the antitrust practice, based in Washington, D.C.

Jackson Lewis has expanded in Reston, Virginia, with the hire of JEWELL ESPOSITO, previously the cochair of Constangy Brooks & Smith's ERISA practice. A partner in the counseling and litigation group, Esposito brings an associate from her former firm with her.

Jackson Lewis has also brought in EVAN ROSEN as a partner in its Atlanta office. Rosen, a labor and employment lawyer, comes from Epstein Becker & Green.

JAMES DUFFY IV has jumped from DLA Piper to the partnership of K&L Gates in New York. Duffy joins as a member of the firm's international arbitration practice.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has brought in two partners to its health care, life sciences, and technology team in Atlanta. Partners SIDNEY WELCH and LYNN SCOTT were formerly at Arnall Golden Gregory.

Littler Mendelson has added to its Los Angeles office by bringing class action and single-plaintiff litigator CURTIS GRAHAM to the firm as a shareholder. Graham joins along with a senior associate from FordHarrison.

JOHN MARKEY has moved from Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo to Boston firm Prince Lobel Tye. Markey, a partner, specializes in internal investigations and corporate compliance.

Dickstein Shapiro lost two attorneys in New York to Reed Smith. CLARK LACKERT and KEITH SHARKIN, both joining Reed Smith as partners, specialize in intellectual property.

CLAUDIUS SOKENU is now a partner with Shearman & Sterling in the firm's securities enforcement and anticorruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act groups. He most recently was at Arnold & Porter, and will divide his time between New York, Washington, D.C., and London.

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton has expanded its corporate practice by adding ARIEL YEHEZKEL to its New York office as a private equity partner. Yehezkel was previously at Kirkland & Ellis.

Sheppard Mullin has also added DAVID ALMEIDA to its Chicago office as a partner in the business trial practice group and privacy and data securities practice. Almeida most recently worked at Sedgwick and brings one associate with him.

Sidley Austin has hired two new partners. MATTHEW SHANKLAND will now work for the firm's dispute resolution practice in London, moving over from Weil, Gotshal & Manges. NICHOLAS GRAMBAS, previously with Gilbert & Tobin, will be based out of the firm's Singapore office, practicing for its project finance and infrastructure group.

Winstead made a series of hires in Charlotte this week. TIMOTHY RYAN and WILL WALKER moved over from Mayer Brown and are now shareholders in the firm’s banking and finance practice. CHRISTIAN BELTZ, previously with Cozen O'Connor, will be of counsel to the firm’s real estate finance practice.

The Churn is compiled from law firm releases and announcements. Moves based on our own reporting will note this. Please send all announcements and news releases to