Robert Thackston (Courtesy photo)

Missouri-based Am Law 200 firm Lathrop Gage has made an entrance into the Texas market and added to its West Coast presence, hiring seven toxic tort and mass tort litigators from Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young in Dallas and Los Angeles.

Partner Robert Thackston will head the four-lawyer Dallas office, which opened Thursday. Others joining in Dallas are associates Samuel Garcia, Ryan Hale and Lanita Morgan.

In Los Angeles, partners Julia Gowin and Paula Pendley and associate Nilofar Karbassi joined from Hawkins Parnell, now known as Hawkins Parnell & Young.

Cameron Garrison, Lathrop Gage’s managing partner, said Thackston and his group handle litigation for mutual client Smithfield Foods, and “once we were introduced to each other, we found synergies.”

In addition to growing the firm’s “robust” toxic and mass tort strength, Garrison said, the new group allowed Lathrop Gage to finally tack on an office in Dallas.

“Dallas is a market we have had an eye on for a long time,” Garrison said.

Thackston said he decided last year that he wanted to move to a larger firm, and was introduced to lawyers from Lathrop Gage by another partner at Hawkins Parnell. Then, he said, he heard good things about the firm from mutual client Smithfield and decided it would be a great fit for his practice.

Thackston, who spent 16 years at Hawkins Parnell and opened the firm’s Dallas office in 2003, said his former firm provided him with many opportunities, but he wanted to move to a firm with a larger, more diverse client roster.

His practice includes product liability, toxic and mass torts and commercial and environmental litigation. In addition to Smithfield, Thackston said his clients include American International Industries, FAC Group and Minor International.

A spokesman for Hawkins Parnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the departures.

Lathrop Gage, founded in Kansas City, also has offices in Boston; Boulder, Colorado; Chicago; Denver; Jefferson City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Overland Park, Kansas; and St. Louis. It also has an appointment-only office in Columbia, Missouri, and a government relations and consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

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