After taking a winding path through Big Law and several small firms in the Dallas market, Meagan Martin Powers has launched her own business law boutique composed of four women lawyers.
Martin Powers & Counsel opened Monday to provide general counsel services to small- and medium-sized companies, and litigation and other practices for larger companies. Martin Powers handles business disputes and bankruptcy matters and serves as outside GC for several clients.
“There is a real need for general counsel services in smaller businesses. There’s not economic reasoning to have their own internal lawyers,” said Martin Powers, who founded the firm and owns 100 percent of its equity.
Other lawyers at the new firm are Angelita Delgadillo, who came from Kaplan & Moon and handles complex commercial litigation and real estate work; of counsel Ashley Storm Ruleman, who does work for clients in the real estate, construction and alcoholic beverage industries; and of counsel Tina Izadi, founder of Izadi Law Group in Edmond, Oklahoma, who does employment law and commercial litigation.
Izadi maintains her own firm in Oklahoma. She said she met Martin Powers when they worked together on a client matter, and she is excited to provide an “extra layer of labor and employment support” to the new firm.
“We are excited. I’m excited for her,” Izadi said.
Martin Powers said she did not set out to form a women-only firm, but it worked out that way.
Early in her career, Martin Powers was an associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Dallas, but she left in 2009 to join Spencer Crain Cubbage Healy & McNamara, then a women-owned firm in Dallas. In 2012, she moved to Strong Slater & Johnson, which became Stewart Strong after a merger. Then, because of a client conflict, Martin Powers moved in 2013 to the firm now known as Hamilton Wingo, where she collaborated on business litigation with partner Chris Hamilton.
After Hamilton and his partner decided to focus their firm on personal injury work, Martin Powers decided it didn’t make sense from a marketing perspective to stay at Hamilton Wingo, so she moved in 2017 to another trial firm—Heygood, Orr & Pearson, where she was a partner. But that firm also wasn’t the best fit for her practice.
“When it gets down to it, Heygood serves clients for mass torts, class actions and complex class action litigation. My clients are from very large banks to professional sports teams, oil and gas equipment companies, a real estate developer [and] food manufacturers,” she said.
Martin Powers said she decided to create a firm that would serve as external general counsel for companies without in-house legal departments as part of the practice offerings.
“Everyone in my family is a small business owner. While I started my career [in] Big Law, I think that was antithetical to my DNA. I’m very much into digging in and being part of the business, bringing the legal perspective to it, trying to avoid problems,” she said.
The firm’s clients include Citibank, she said, but she declined to identify others.
Martin Powers said her firm is right-sized to represent smaller companies—although not all of her clients are in that category—and can serve them well in part because of lower billing rates.
She said her firm’s rates are half what Big Law firms with offices in Dallas charge, and about 30 to 40 percent below the rates at large Texas firms.
“We are more nimble. Some clients are too small for the largest firms because they don’t want to create a conflict of interest down the road. They don’t want to advise on small matters,” she said.
Martin Powers & Counsel does business litigation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, labor and employment law, real estate, landlord/tenant, contract negotiations and general counsel services.
The firm also handles Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission compliance work, since Ruleman is a former assistant general counsel at the TABC. Ruleman founded Storm Liquor License, which assists businesses seeking liquor licenses.