Winston & Strawn, which is focused on building up its energy and transactional practice, has named partner Douglas Atnipp as managing partner in Houston.
Atnipp, who does large-scale energy transactions, joined the firm’s 55-lawyer Houston office in January.
“Putting me in the position is a signal to the market we are focused on that [practice],” Atnipp said. “Before this, the office was seen more as an IP litigation shop. We want the market to see our strategic focus is transactional and energy.”
Atnipp assumed his new position this week.
“We will keep doing what the office has done so well since it started here—IP and IP litigation—but we are going to strategically focus on corporate and transactional and energy,” Atnipp said.
Atnipp has led an office before. Before joining Winston & Strawn, he was co-managing partner of Greenberg Traurig‘s Houston office, which he helped launch in 2005.
Atnipp said the energy transactional practice has been very busy since the summer. He said that with the heated lateral hiring market in Texas, it will be a challenge to add energy lawyers in Houston because the competition is fierce.
“The market in Houston is very difficult. The recruiting wars continue. A bunch of great firms have opened offices here and they have been recruiting and are still recruiting. We are still recruiting,” he said.
The firm is actually recruiting in Houston and Dallas. It has had an office in Houston since 2011, but opened an office in Dallas in February 2017. The firm’s lawyer head count increased by 120.5 percent in 2017, compared with 2016, according to The Texas Top 100 report on the 100 largest firms in Texas.
Atnipp succeeds intellectual property litigation partner John Keville as managing partner of the office. Keville said he wanted to step back from his management responsibilities because his practice is very busy, and also because of family obligations. His daughter, Olivia, is in the cast of the ABC show Splitting Up Together, and her two siblings are in college, making for a busy household.
Houston is one of five Winston & Strawn offices with new managing partners. The firm also on Thursday announced new leaders in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Atnipp said the firm traditionally looks at local office management every three years when it redoes its executive committee.