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Minority-owned firm White & Wiggins of Dallas has opened an office in New York and has made four lateral hires, including partner Kennedy Barnes, who has returned to the firm where he started his career. The firm is now known as White Wiggins & Barnes.

In addition to Barnes, White Wiggins added partners Ward White IV and Nnamdi Anozie in Dallas, and of counsel Lance Croffoot-Suede in New York. With the lateral hires, the 10-lawyer firm beefs up its commercial litigation strength and adds a global litigation, compliance and regulatory practice focusing on the African continent, and an entertainment practice.

Barnes, who previously practiced at White & Wiggins for seven years in the 1990s, also worked at Bickel & Brewer and was a partner at Thompson Knight and most recently at Lackey Hershman of Dallas. He said he considers managing partner J. Ron White his mentor and he is excited about “adding to the legacy” of the firm over the rest of his career.

Kennedy Barnes

Barnes left Lackey Hershman last November and started working on a strategic practice plan, arranged to join his new firm, and helped recruit Ward White, Anozie and Croffoot-Suede to the firm. He said he practiced as a solo for a few months during the transition, and then joined White Wiggins in March.

The New York office opened on May 1—the same day the firm announced the lateral hires.

Barnes said the plan is to build an international practice at White Wiggins, particularly on the African continent, in the energy and entertainment spaces. “We want to bridge opportunities between American and western business and individuals and opportunities on the continent, and vice versa,” he said, One example would be connecting musicians and filmmakers in Africa to investors, he said.

Barnes said his clients include a Nigerian oil and gas company and other African companies in the energy sector and several clients in the entertainment business. As a litigator, he said he also does international arbitrations.

Managing partner White said the firm, which does litigation and transactional work, was looking to expand around the time Barnes approached him about building an international practice with the new hires.

Anozie, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Nigeria, said he was attracted to White Wiggins’ reputation in Dallas, but also Barnes’ vision of doing work in Africa and for American companies in Africa.

“I understand the region,” Anozie said, noting that his father lives in Nigeria.

He said he and Barnes have litigation and regulatory experience, and knowledge of laws and regulations in countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, which will help them build the international practice. Anozie came to White Wiggins from trial firm Lynn, Pinker Cox & Hurst in Dallas.

Ward White, who had an entertainment firm in Fort Worth before joining White Wiggins, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Croffoot-Suede, who is a principal in LCS Global Group—an investigations, governance and compliance company with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and London, and previously was a partner at Linklaters.

White Wiggins was founded in 1993 and is the oldest minority-owned civil practice firm in Texas, according to the firm.