Seated, from left: Keith Blackman and Joshua Klein; standing: Russell Gallaro and Allan Taffet

Nearly half a dozen lawyers from New York-based Duval & Stachenfeld have recently left the roughly 70-lawyer real estate boutique for other firms.

Bracewell announced Wednesday its addition of Allan Taffet, a longtime head of litigation at Duval & Stachenfeld, along with fellow partners Keith Blackman and Joshua Klein. Duval & Stachenfeld associate Russell Gallaro has also joined Bracewell in the same capacity.

On Monday, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan touted its addition of Evan Hudson, co-chair of Duval & Stachenfeld’s real estate capital markets group, as a corporate partner in New York.

Bruce Stachenfeld, a founding partner at Duval & Stachenfeld, said that he and others at the firm are “disappointed by the departure of our colleagues, who have been friends for many years. We sincerely wish our friends the best of success—they are good people and excellent lawyers.” 

The four-lawyer team joining Bracewell represents individuals and corporations in the financial sector in litigating complex commercial and financial disputes involving real estate, securities and derivatives, as well as employment and noncompetition matters.

We’re ecstatic to be here,” said Taffet, who spent the past 16 years at Duval & Stachenfeld. “This was an opportunity that we were excited by for our clients and our practice.”

Taffet said that Bracewell’s focus on financial services, as well as the firm’s nationwide footprint and the depth of its litigation practice helped entice his team to come aboard. Stachenfeld said that Taffet, a friend and colleague for more than 40 years, had built one of the nation’s top practices for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority work in the country. The benefits of going to a more general practice firm like Bracewell, he said, were clear.

“We are the pure play in real estate law. That is what we are,” said Stachenfeld about his firm, which in recent years has increased the salaries it pays junior lawyers in order to compete for talent with larger rivals. “Allan’s team is the top FINRA practice. There just aren’t synergies. I completely respect Allan’s decision to leave for a firm like Bracewell that has better synergies for a FINRA practice than our firm.”

The addition of the Duval & Stachenfeld team comes a little more than a month after Bracewell brought on former Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman project finance partners Nicolai Sarad and Fernando Rodriguez Marin. Bracewell, which saw its gross revenue rise last year, to $278.7 million, has watched its New York office go through some changes in recent years.

The firm removed former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani from its shingle in early 2016, almost a decade after he joined the Houston-based firm, following politically controversial comments reportedly caused some internal turmoil. Giuliani headed to Greenberg Traurig, where he recently went on leave after joining the legal team of President Donald Trump.

Over at Stroock, which saw its gross revenue dip last year, to $251 million, Hudson brings to the firm a practice focused on corporate and securities transactions for real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other real estate investment vehicles, including initial public offerings, follow-on equity offerings and private placements.

Hudson began his legal career more than a decade ago as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom. In 2011, he joined Proskauer Rose as an associate before heading to Duval & Stachenfeld four years later. Hudson was traveling Wednesday and unable for immediate comment about his decision to leave the firm, but he did release a statement about Stroock.

“Stroock has long been on my radar for the breadth and quality of its corporate and real estate work,” Hudson said. “Stroock represents top stakeholders at every point across the industry and its transactional, real estate and private funds services are all a terrific complement to my capital markets focus.”

Hudson’s addition is just the latest lateral hire that Stroock has made in New York. In February, the firm hired former Kasowitz Benson Torres partner Daniel Fliman for its financial restructuring group.

UPDATE: 5/9/18, 10:50 p.m. EDT. Bruce Stachenfeld’s comments have been added to this story.