Andrew Baker
Andrew Baker ()

In a major lateral move in Texas, nine transactional partners who work in the energy sector have joined Baker Bottsin Houston, coming from the Houston office of Norton Rose Fulbright.

The partners include David Peterman, former head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. M&A and securities practice; Robert Phillpott, former head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. tax practice; and Efren Acosta, former head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Houston corporate, M&A and securities practices. Others are Edward Rhyne, Ned Crady, Daniel Mark, Natasha Khan, Ron Scharnberg and Dan Tristan.

Rhyne, Peterman, Acosta, Khan and Tristan join Baker Botts’ corporate practice, Crady and Mark join global projects, and Phillpott and Scharnberg join the tax practice. Each joined Baker Botts as of Feb. 20 or earlier.

Andrew Baker, managing partner of Baker Botts, said the lateral hires are “outstanding lawyers” who give the firm greater depth in finance, private equity, M&A and tax. He described them as “people whose DNA matches ours” and their decision to move from one large firm in Houston to another shows how attractive Baker Botts is for energy and transactions work.

Baker said the firm has been working on this lateral deal for years, but negotiations intensified last fall. “This is not a response to the six-month uptick in energy,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Baker Botts has landed a large group from Norton Rose Fulbright. In July 2013, shortly after Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski combined with U.K. firm Norton Rose, a group of eight legacy Fulbright partners in the Middle East left Norton Rose Fulbright to join Baker Botts.

Rhyne said he has practiced in Houston since 1986, and he always respected Baker Botts because of its strength in areas such as corporate, technology, tax and energy, and he could not pass up the opportunity to join Baker Botts.

He said the nine partners are a “pretty tight group” who have worked together for years.

Rhyne said nothing going on at Norton Rose Fulbright led to the timing of their departures. “It wasn’t about a problem with Norton Rose Fulbright. It was more of an opportunity at Baker Botts,” he said.

Rhyne declined to identify the group’s clients, but said they include his private equity clients and clients in energy and tax.

Rhyne said he expects some associates that they have worked with closely to join them at Baker Botts.

John Porter, the partner-in-charge in Houston for Baker Botts, said in a written statement that the firm’s new partners “recognize the importance of collegiality, professional excellence, integrity and world-class client service.”

When asked to comment on the departures, Daryl Lansdale, a Norton Rose Fulbright partner in San Antonio who is U.S. managing partner, said, “As you have seen in the market, groups of lawyers are moving on a regular basis. Fortunately, with 450 lawyers in Texas, we have an extremely deep bench.”

Contact Brenda Sapino Jeffreys at bjeffreys@alm.com On Twitter: @BrendaSJeffreys

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