Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

White & Case, which launched a Houston office in February, has expanded in the nation’s energy capital with tax partner Chad McCormick, who formerly led the tax practice at Kirkland & Ellis in Houston.

McCormick joined White & Case’s global tax practice on Tuesday. He will also work with the global M&A practice. Before joining Kirkland in 2016, he was a partner with Baker Botts in Houston. He advises clients on federal tax issues related to domestic and cross-border mergers, acquisitions and separations in the energy sector.

John Reiss, White & Case’s global head of M&A, said the depth and breadth of McCormick’s transactional tax practice will benefit the firm’s clients.

“Chad is an excellent energy-focused tax attorney with a critical strength in oil and gas matters,” Reiss said in a statement.

Gregory Pryor, head of White & Case’s Americas M&A and corporate practice, stated that adding McCormick’s oil and gas expertise to the firm’s tax practice and its growing Houston office “demonstrates our commitment to our oil and gas industry clients and the growth of our overall M&A practice.”

Chad McCormick

At Kirkland, McCormick worked on a number of recent big energy deals in Texas, according to Texas Lawyer reports, including representing Sanchez Energy Corp. in 2017 on a $2.3 billion purchase of Eagle Ford Shale assets in South Texas from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. He also worked on the Kirkland team representing AIMCo (Alberta Investment Management Co.) in a Permian Basin joint venture deal.

In its own statement, Kirkland said: “We enjoyed working with Chad and wish him luck in his move.”

McCormick said he joined White & Case because of the firm’s stature.

“White & Case is kind of prestigious in the energy field,” he said. “I’ve been an energy tax lawyer for most of my career.”

McCormick said he started talking to White & Case informally through “acquaintances in the marketplace” and it went from there. He said he could not pass up the opportunity.

He declined to identify clients.

Since moving into the Texas market in February, White & Case has aggressively hired laterals from big firms in Houston. It opened the office with partner James “Jay” Cuclis, who joined the firm from Vinson & Elkins; with partners Christopher Richardson and Charlie Ofner, who left Andrews Kurth Kenyonnow Hunton Andrews Kurth; and with Saul Daniel, an England-qualified partner who formerly practiced in the firm’s offices in London and Abu Dhabi. The firm soon added oil and gas partner Steven Otillar from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld,  M&A partner Steven Tredennick from Paul Hastings, project finance partner David Strickland from King & Spalding, and international arbitration partner Jorge Mattamouros from King & Spalding.

Like White & Case, Chicago-based Kirkland has gone after big-firm lateral hires in Houston since it moved into Houston in 2014. While still hiring in Houston and latching on a Dallas office this summer, Kirkland has also lost a few lawyers in Houston. In addition to McCormick, it recently lost Justin Hoffman, who joined Baker Botts in Houston in June after two years in Kirkland’s Dallas office.

“Kirkland has a deep bench of high-quality talent in its areas of strength, and just like any firm in its position, it can be a double-edged sword,” said Kent Zimmermann, a firm consultant with Zeughauser Group who does work in Texas.

But Kirkland has also added a number of big-firm lateral hires in Dallas over the last few weeks, including Kevin Crews, who is expected to join the firm this week after waiting nearly three months because Weil, Gotshal & Manges refused to let the lawyer out of a six-month hold. The American Lawyer reported Tuesday that Weil is no longer enforcing the hold.