Winston & Strawn Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi

In its first major lateral addition of 2018, Winston & Strawn announced Thursday its recruitment of eight energy and infrastructure lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.

The eight lawyers are the first in a wave of new recruits that could eventually see more than 20 lawyers make the jump from Norton Rose Fulbright to Winston & Strawn’s energy transactional and regulatory practices.

David Gillespie, Patrick Groomes, Michael Loesch, Michael Pikiel Jr. and Michael Yuffee are joining Winston & Strawn as partners, while Terry Arbit, Brenda Hanzl and Rebecca Limmer are coming aboard as of counsel. Arbit, Groomes, Loesch and Yuffee will be based in Washington D.C., Pikiel and Gillespie will work out of New York and Hanzl is based in Houston, where Winston & Strawn opened an office in 2011.

“We were looking for a platform that was comparable with the group that we had developed over the years and our approach to the market,” said Groomes, who served as head of the power and alternative energy practice at Norton Rose.

Groomes first joined Norton Rose legacy firm Fulbright & Jaworski in 2011 from Kirkland & Ellis, where he spent the majority of his legal career, save for his brief stint in 2005 as an in-house counsel at independent power producer Cogentrix Energy Inc.

Winston & Strawn became a strong front-runner for Groomes’ group, he said, because of its willingness to take on the whole team, a move that fell in line with Winston & Strawn’s approach to the market and where it wants to be as a firm.

“Where we are as a team I think is compatible with the long-term vision that Winston has of building up a very strong, broad-based practice for the energy and infrastructure sector,” said Groomes, who tapped legal recruiter Scott Marsland from SJM Legal to advise on the move.

The new group at Winston & Strawn, which in recent years has made several large bulk lateral additions to bolster its bottom line, works with clients on energy-related acquisitions, energy trading, financings and project developments, among other matters.

“The opportunity to take what we’d already built [as an infrastructure practice] and expand on it and develop the platform a little bit further at Winston was a compelling opportunity,” said Pikiel, who headed Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. mining and commodities practice, which will now be led by partner Douglas Fried.

With the group’s departure, the remainder of Norton Rose’s infrastructure practice will be comprised of a project finance group that includes attorneys from legacy firm Chadbourne & Parke that was absorbed by the global giant through its merger with the New York-based firm last year. (Norton Rose itself was formed via a cross-border combination in 2013.)

“Lawyer movement happens from time to time,” said Norton Rose’s U.S. managing partner Daryl Lansdale in a statement, one that noted his firm’s addition of 65 partners through its union with Chadbourne. “We wish these departing legacy Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers well.”

This is the second group that Winston & Strawn has nabbed from Norton Rose as a result of its deal with Chadbourne. In August, Winston & Strawn brought on 10 partners from Norton Rose’s Latin American practice.