Willkie Farr & Gallagher has hired energy transactions lawyer Steven Torello for its Houston office—a move the firm says fits into its overall strategy of hiring successful young partners working in the private equity space.

“He’s part of a plan that we have had from Day One … to signal to our long-term clients that we are going to attract young, ambitious lawyers who have the skills to handle complex private equity transactions,” said Bruce Herzog, Willkie’s partner-in-charge of the Houston office.

Torello joined Willkie’s Houston office on Feb. 20, coming from DLA Piper’s Houston office, where he was a partner.

Torello said he’s had his eye on Willkie for several years because the firm has put together an impressive roster of lawyers doing private equity and energy work since it opened the Houston office in November 2014. “I was impressed at how quickly Willkie was becoming a player,” he said.

Torello said he decided to make the move because of Willkie’s resources that target and cater to energy and private equity clients in Houston and because the firm will open new doors for him. “I’m a young partner. If I can come in and help them develop the relationships they have established, I feel like that’s a great team to join,” he said.

Torello declined to identify his clients. He represents energy-focused private equity funds that form platform companies in the upstream, oil field service and midstream businesses.

Herzog, who offices in Houston and New York, said each of the 30 lawyers in the Houston office does work for private equity clients. In 2018, he said, the firm will focus its lateral hiring on the finance practice, led in Houston by partner Mike Niebruegge. “While I had originally architected that as a support practice to our M&A practice, it’s really been a very viable standalone practice from day one,” he said.