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Duane Morris sign Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Duane Morris has opened an office in Dallas, its third in Texas, with four Barnes & Thornburg trial lawyers, as the Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm targets opportunity in the robust Dallas economy and the high-technology and energy sectors in Texas.

Matthew Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Duane Morris, said adding the trial team gives the firm a “critical mass of legal talent” in Texas and, when combined with the Houston and Austin offices, a footprint in key Texas markets.

“Texas is really one of the centerpieces of our strategic growth, along with New York, California and Chicago,” he said.

Taylor expects further expansion in Texas, a state that continued to attract out-of-state firms in 2020, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The office opened Monday. Taylor said an interview the firm is also talking to corporate, bankruptcy and health care lawyers for Dallas.

The lateral partner hires are Robert Castle III, Randy Gordon, Jamie Welton and Lucas “Luke” Wohlford. Gordon helped open the Barnes & Thornburg office in Dallas in 2015, and the others made the move in 2018.

Taylor said adding a Dallas office builds on success in Texas and follows the strategic plan the firm adopted in 2018. He defined success in Texas as the firm’s ability to hire top-notch lawyers in Texas— like the “high-quality energetic lawyers” launching the Dallas office — and the fact that the Austin and Houston offices are well-integrated in the firm.

“It’s amazing the trade and commerce that flows in and out of Texas in the Duane Morris platform, and the teams that are built just on the talent,” he said.

Another measure of success in Texas, in Taylor’s view, is the fact that several lawyers have emerged as leaders within the firm, including Houston office managing partner Thomas Sankey, chair of the intellectual property litigation division of the trial practice group; Brad Thompson in Austin, a team leader for the energy industry group; and Alex Gonzales in Austin, a team leader for the insurance/reinsurance industry group.

Gordon, who is the managing partner of the new office for Duane Morris, said in a statement that Dallas has an “extremely positive business climate for entrepreneurs,” is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters, and presents opportunities with many technology, health care, financial, energy and transportation clients.

Gordon added in an interview that he likes the opportunity to build an organization in Dallas of some “like-minded people” and to start that with a core group of lawyers he’s worked with for a number of years.

“I was pretty familiar with the firm. I thought they were good lawyers and fairly like-minded. They’ve always had a strong antitrust practice which has overlapped with mine. I thought they had a strong growth strategy, having seen what they’ve done in Texas. I hope to replicate that in Dallas,” Gordon said.

According to Gordon, the group’s clients include Texas A&M University, Megatel Homes, Aveanna Healthcare and Kindred Healthcare.

Barnes & Thornburg, contacted about the departures, said in a statement: “We wish them all the best in their new venture.”

Duane Morris launched its Houston office in 1999, and added Austin in 2017. The Am Law 100 firm has 29 offices globally, along with a number of satellite offices.

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Brenda Sapino Jeffreys

Senior reporter Brenda Sapino Jeffreys covers the business of law in Texas. Contact her at [email protected] On Twitter: @BrendaSJeffreys

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