(Courtesy photo)

New York-based law firm Kelley Drye & Warren has merged with Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, a 14-lawyer Texas-based firm best known for its prowess in environmental litigation.

“The attorneys at Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs are highly respected and they bring a substantial experience in environmental litigation and sophisticated regulatory and commercial litigation matters,” Kelley Drye chairman Jim Carr said in an interview earlier this week. “But equally as important, we believe Kelley Drye and Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs have very similar cultures and that will lead to the success of the combined firm.”

Kelley Drye had been looking for a few years for the right firm to help expand its energy and environmental litigation practice. And it had a keenly fixed eye on the Texas market in particular, said Wegman Partners chair Scott Legg, who assisted Kelley Drye in the merger. Talks between Kelley Drye and Jackson Gilmour started about a year ago.

Jackson Gilmour’s national reputation for environmental litigation made it an attractive choice, Carr said. In 2015, Jackson Gilmour served as special counsel to the New Jersey attorney general and helped secure more than $355 million to cover cleanup costs and damages caused by the dumping of hazardous substances into the Passaic River. (Jackson Gilmour was named specialty litigation group of the year by sibling publication Texas Lawyer for its work on the case.)

With this merger, Kelley Drye will expand its number of offices from seven to nine through the addition of Jackson Gilmour’s offices in Houston and Austin. The expansion into Texas also gives Kelley Drye the ability to further grow its energy practice group, Carr said.

“They have a significant national name for environmental litigation [and] what we bring is a significant national reputation for litigation,” Carr said. “So it allows the attorneys at Jackson Gilmour to increase and expand upon that brand that they’ve developed since they’ve formed that firm.”

Jackson Gilmour was founded in 2008 by partners William Jackson, John Gilmour and Michael Dobbs.

Despite its size, Jackson Gilmour represents clients across dozens of states, including serving as co-national counsel for Union Pacific Railroad in a pending matter in California, co-founder Jackson said. The opportunity to partner with Kelley Drye gives the small Texas firm a national platform to grow its practice and serve its clients, he said.

“Once we began to evaluate the different practice strengths and how they would fit together, it became readily apparent that this would be a great opportunity for both firms,” Jackson said.

Jackson will become co-chair of the environmental law practice group and managing partner of the combined firm’s Texas offices, which will be known as Kelley Drye/Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs until the end of 2017. Jackson Gilmour co-founder Gilmour will chair the firm’s newly formed environmental litigation practice group.

Co-founders Jackson, Gilmour and Dobbs will remain at the combined firm’s Houston office, along with partners Ann Al-Bahish, Kenneth Corley, John Hagan and William Petit, special counsel Melanie McDonald, and associates Jordan Rodriguez, Lauren Valastro and Mark Donatiello. Partners John Riley and Paul Sarahan and associate Allison Lowry will remain in the Austin office.