Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which hired six public finance lawyers from Andrews Kurth Kenyon in Texas earlier this month, further strengthened its public finance practice Thursday, adding an additional 14 lawyers from Andrews Kurth’s public finance team.
A total of 20 Andrews Kurth lawyers have now made the move to Orrick in Texas. They will work out of the firm’s Houston office and in a new office in Austin.
Justin Cooper, an Orrick partner based in San Francisco and Sacramento and is co-chair of Orrick’s public finance department, said the Andrews Kurth group has been “one of the biggest public finance heavy hitters in the state,” and that adding such a strong team to Orrick propels the firm into the top ranks of Texas public finance firms.
“California, New York and Texas are the three biggest [public finance] markets and now we feel like we really have a leading presence in each of those markets,” Cooper said.
The large group is the latest lateral contingent to depart Andrews Kurth prior to its April 2 merger with Virginia-based Hunton & Williams.
The lawyers joining Orrick in Houston on Thursday include partners Rick Witte, the former head of public finance at Andrews Kurth, and partners Adrian Patterson, James Hernandez and Tanya Fischer, and of counsel Barbara League.
The Austin lateral contingent includes partners Julia Houston and Jerry Kyle and of counsel Greg Shields.
Two weeks ago, Orrick confirmed that Robert Collie and Gene Locke had joined the firm in Houston as senior counsel. It also confirmed that Jerry Turner joined as a senior counsel in Austin, along with of counsel Nathelie Ashby, Eric Johnson and Bill Medaille.
Also joining Orrick’s office in Houston are associates Cathleen Chang, Nikki Hill, Donna McIntosh and Ben Morse. In addition, associates Andrew Bethune and Taylor Raymond have joined the firm in Austin.
Witte said they could not pass up the opportunity to join Orrick because the firm is “the best in the business at what we do.”
He said Orrick approached them about six months ago about the move. “They contacted us at a time when there was some uncertainty at Andrews Kurth around the merger,” Witte said. “The longer we talked to them, the harder it got to say no.”
But Witte said he has nothing negative to say about Andrews Kurth. “Andrews Kurth has been a great platform for us. They treated us very well, provided all the resources that we needed,” he said.
Kyle, one of the new Austin-based partners, said Orrick provides the group with not only a “national powerhouse” in public finance, but also with the opportunity to stay together. Many of the lawyers have been practicing together for decades, including Kyle and Witte, who joined Andrews Kurth in 2001 from the Houston firm Mayor Day Caldwell & Keeton.
Witte declined to identify the group’s clients, but according to Orrick, lawyers in the group have done work for the city of Houston, the city of Austin, Harris County, the Harris County Toll Road Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas state Comptroller’s Office, Texas A&M University, Houston Independent School District, the Austin Independent School District and underwriters.
A spokeswoman for Andrews Kurth declined to comment.