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(From left to right) Latham Watkin's Timothy Fenn, Sean Wheeler, Bill Finnegan, Michael Dillard, Michael Darden,Brett Braden and Michael Chambers.(From left to right) Latham Watkin’s Timothy Fenn, Sean Wheeler, Bill Finnegan, Michael Dillard, Michael Darden,Brett Braden and Michael Chambers. (Jill Hunter)

It might not go over well among the proud Texans of Houston, but it was a lawyer in Manhattan who sparked sweeping changes in the city’s legal market.

Vinson & Elkins New York corporate partner Charles Carpenter, a lawyer who started his career in Texas, received a call in 2007 from a headhunter trying to recruit him for a rival firm. (Carpenter won’t name the firm.) Carpenter wasn’t interested in taking his practice, which focuses on energy transactions, to the headhunter’s client firm. But he did mention to the recruiter that he would be interested in Latham & Watkins, if an opportunity ever developed there. Carpenter had been impressed by Latham’s lawyers when he worked across the table from them on deals in New York, and as someone who had tried to recruit laterals to V&E’s New York office, he respected Latham’s success in building its New York office into the firm’s largest. The recruiter helped broker an initial meeting between Carpenter and Latham leaders, including now vice-chair David Gordon. After an on-again, off-again courtship that lasted nearly three years, Carpenter joined Latham in New York in March 2010 as part of the firm’s expansion into the domestic oil and gas sector.

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