Michael Darden, chair of the oil and gas transactions group and co-chair of the oil and gas industry team at Latham & Watkins, is headed to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s new office in Houston.
Latham recently pulled Darden’s biography page from its website, and Darden’s State Bar of Texas profile now shows his affiliation with Gibson Dunn. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his decision to leave Latham, but Gibson Dunn subsequently confirmed his move in a press release. Also joining Gibson Dunn is former Latham lawyer Justin Stolte, most recently in-house at Houston-based oil and gas exploration and production company Apache Corp.
Gibson Dunn announced in early February that it would hire eight oil and gas partners in the city, but declined to identify them, citing obligations to their former firms and clients. Robert Walters, partner-in-charge of Gibson Dunn’s Dallas office and a member of the firm’s executive committee, declined to comment about any other pending hires in Houston.
Walters joined Gibson Dunn in early 2011 with four partners from Vinson & Elkins, a year after four other Vinson partners defected to Latham’s new Houston office. Also joining Latham at that time was Darden (pictured right), previously chair of the global oil and gas practice at Baker Botts. Latham’s expansion into Houston was the subject of a 2014 feature story by sibling publication The American Lawyer, which focused on the firm’s lateral strategy in an insular legal market.
At Latham, Darden took the lead on several notable M&A transactions in the oil and gas sector, such as advising Anadarko Petroleum Corp. late last year on its $2 billion purchase of assets in the Gulf of Mexico and Reliance Holding USA Inc. on its $2.15 billion sale of Eagle Ford shale midstream assets to Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP.
In a statement, a Latham spokesman called Darden a “valued member” of the firm’s corporate department, thanking him for his contributions to the firm and wishing Darden well in his future endeavors. The firm took in a whopping $2.8 billion in gross revenue for 2016, a year that saw Latham’s profits per partner push past the $3 million mark for the first time.
As for Gibson Dunn, the firm took in $1.6 billion in gross revenue last year, while partner profits reached nearly $3.3 million, according to The American Lawyer.
CORRECTION: 3/1/17, 4:50 p.m. EST. An initial version of this story misstated Walters’ work history.