Houston Skyline

Hugh Tucker, a Baker Botts partner who chairs the firm’s oil and gas practice, is expected to move to Shearman & Sterling as the New York firm prepares to open an office in Houston, according to five sources familiar with Tucker’s practice.

Shearman & Sterling also reportedly plans to open an office in Austin, a move that fits with the overall trend that has seen firms based outside of Texas putting down roots in the state to do energy work. Earlier this month, White & Case opened an office in Houston by hiring lawyers from more than one large Texas firm.

Hugh Tucker

The sources said Tucker, also chairman of the firm’s global projects department in Houston, could not move immediately due to Baker Botts’ 90-day hold policy for departing partners. Some of the sources said other oil and gas attorneys from Baker Botts are expected to join Tucker at Shearman & Sterling.

Tucker did not immediately respond to requests for comment. And Baker Botts managing partner Andrew Baker declined to discuss the move.

A spokeswoman for Shearman & Sterling also declined to respond to questions about Tucker. However, in a statement, Shearman & Sterling commented on expansion plans in general.

“We constantly assess the market for opportunities that fit with our business and offer added value to our clients,” the statement said. “Expanding our presence in the United States continues to be a strategic priority for our firm.”

According to deal coverage in Texas Lawyer, Tucker has represented Marathon Oil Corp., The Energy & Minerals Group, Occidental Petroleum Corp., and McMoRan Exploration Co.

Baker Botts initiated the 90-day leave policy after Latham & Watkins opened its Houston office in 2010 and quickly poached partners, according to a source familiar with the policy.

Six energy partners who moved from Baker Botts to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s new Houston office in 2017 also had to wait nearly 90 days to move.

Baker Botts is not the only firm with such a policy. In September 2013, Sidley Austin announced that eight partners from Weil, Gotshal & Manges would join its Dallas office. But the lawyers weren’t able to transition to their new firm for nearly a month because they had to wait until Weil released them.