Midwest firm Spencer Fane, which has Texas offices in Dallas and Plano, continued its expansion in the Lone Star State this week by hiring a litigator from Dentons and two cybersecurity and privacy lawyers from Scheef & Stone.
Peg Donahue Hall, who had been a Dentons litigation partner in Dallas, joined Spencer Fane’s Dallas office on Aug. 13. Shawn Tuma, a former partner at Scheef & Stone in Frisco, joined Spencer Fane’s Plano office on Aug. 1, along with associate Jeremy Rucker, who is now practicing out of his new firm’s Dallas office.
Spencer Fane, based in Kansas City, Missouri, opened a Dallas office in 2016 after hiring two lawyers from Scheef & Stone. Earlier this year, Spencer Fane set up shop in Plano, which is located about 20 miles north of Dallas. Patrick Whalen, Spencer Fane’s chairman and managing partner, said his firm’s latest laterals fill client needs in Texas.
“We are very pleased with these hires and look forward to incorporating their abilities into our practices,” said Whalen about Spencer Fane, which now has 18 lawyers in Texas.
Tuma, who has done cybersecurity and privacy work since he was a young lawyer in 1999, said he moved to Spencer Fane because of the firm’s collaborative culture and its group of fellow cybersecurity and privacy lawyers in other cities.
“I needed a larger team of people to work with,” said Tuma, who will now co-chair Spencer Fane’s cybersecurity and data privacy practice.
Tuma added that he and Rucker have been so busy recently that it was getting increasingly difficult to meet client demands at Scheef & Stone.
“It works better at a larger firm and Spencer Fane really gave me the opportunity to have the resources and the value proposition of this model, but at the same time keep my rates in a range that’s appropriate for my clients. That was a big factor,” Tuma said.
Tuma declined to identify specific clients, but said he does work for companies in the medical, transportation and manufacturing industries, as well as for cybersecurity firms. He said some of the work is referred through insurance carriers who offer cybersecurity and privacy policies to their own clients.
While working at now-defunct Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox and Winstead nearly two decades ago, Tuma said he began doing work in the cybersecurity area in 1999 as businesses prepared for the Y2K problem, and in the following years he also did civil litigation to stay busy. But in recent years, his cybersecurity practice has boomed beginning with the 2013 data breach at Target Corp., Tuma said.
Hall said she enjoyed the opportunity to practice at Dentons—she joined the global legal giant’s Dallas office in 2008 when it was still known as Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal—but decided to consider other firms because of Dallas’ “frothy” legal market.
“Spencer Fane is something a little different. The lawyers here are all very well-credentialed, but in that typical Midwestern way, they don’t necessarily beat their chests about that—but they are,” said Hall, adding that the firm’s leadership is also impressive. “They have really got their eye on the prize and their focus on the client, and being collaborative and maintaining a culture of collegiality is really front-and-center for them.”
Hall noted that moving from Dentons, one of the largest firms in the world, to Spencer Fane, which was ranked 208th in the United States on Texas Lawyer affiliate The National Law Journal’s annual ranking of the nation’s 500 largest firms by head count, gives her flexibility in billing rates. “It wasn’t a driving factor. It’s going to be nice,” she said in reference to the latter.
Hall declined to identify clients, but said she works with pharmaceutical and life sciences firms, as well as technology companies. She often serves as national counsel defending mass claims in multidistrict litigation.
When checking out opportunities in the Dallas legal market, Hall said she spoke with a number of firms more similar to her old outfit than to Spencer Fane, but she decided to move to the midsize, Kansas City-based firm because she felt a “different vibe” when she met with people from Spencer Fane.
When asked about the departures of Tuma and Rucker, Scheef & Stone partner Kelly Crawford of Dallas wrote that “Shawn and Jeremy are both excellent attorneys and we will miss them being a part of the Scheef & Stone family. We wish only the best for Shawn and Jeremy at their new firm.”
Dentons, which in recent years has embarked on an international expansion spree, wished Hall well in her future endeavors.
“We sincerely appreciate Peg’s contributions to Dentons, particularly in her role as a former co-chair of WomenLEAD,” the firm said in a statement. “We wish Peg well as she continues her practice and as a champion for our shared passion of inclusion in the profession.”