Midsize Texas firm Andrews Myers has long handled construction litigation, but the firm recently added three Houston lawyers to grow a business litigation practice.
“We have established tremendous depth in our construction practice group. We want to be able to do the same thing in business litigation,” said Ben Westcott, co-managing partner of Andrews Myers. The firm was founded in 1990 by two construction lawyers in Houston, and has grown to 50 lawyers in Houston and Austin.
Partner Hunter Barrow, who joined Andrews Myers from Thompson & Knight on March 5, will lead the effort to build the business litigation group.
He is joined by two Houston lawyers—partner Jim Aycock, who joined Andrews Myers in February from Porter Hedges, and senior counsel Wade Johnson, who joined the firm Monday from Nolte Intellectual Property Law Group, where he had practiced for about 18 months. Johnson is also a former Thompson & Knight lawyer.
Westcott said he has known each of the lateral hires for years—he formerly practiced at Porter Hedges with Aycock and worked on litigation with Barrow and Johnson.
Barrow said it was a tough decision to leave Thompson & Knight after 19 years there, but he was intrigued by Andrews Myers’ “unique and exciting” plans. He said he is quite familiar with the firm because of his prior courtroom work with Westcott and Tim Ross, the firm’s hiring partner.
Barrow said he sees cross-selling opportunities for business litigation at Andrews Myers and that the firm’s “competitive fee structure” will help his team develop business. He declined to identify his clients.
Johnson also said “flexibility” in the fee structure was a big draw for him, as well as the chance to be involved in growing a new practice group with Barrow, his longtime colleague at Thompson & Knight.
“They have a lot of expertise and a lot of clients in the construction industry and we are going to try to tap into doing more commercial litigation for those clients,” he said.
Johnson said he had joined Nolte Intellectual Property Law Group, which also has offices in New York and Palo Alto, California, to help Nolte expand into patent and commercial litigation in Houston. That experience gave him a taste of what he, Barrow and Aycock plan to do at Andrews Myers.
Aycock said he had always known of Andrews Myers’ construction litigation prowess but was surprised to learn about the firm’s growth and expansion into areas such as labor and employment and bankruptcy. That made the decision to move a lot easier, he said, along with the firm’s billing rates for both partners and associates—a better deal than the large firms in Houston.
“The total fee structure to the client is significantly reduced, a much better value proposition to the client. It’s an easy decision for the client,” he said, adding that he brought work with him, but declined to identify the clients.
Alex Nolte, a founder of Nolte Intellectual Property Law Group, said Johnson did develop a litigation practice at his firm, but it was difficult because that’s not the patent firm’s core focus.
“Wade really helped us a bunch,” Nolte said. “Wade is a great guy, a great lawyer. I have nothing but admiration for the guy.”
Thompson & Knight did not immediately provide a comment on Johnson’s departure. Porter Hedges also did not immediately comment on Aycock’s departure.