Two large New York law firms have been preparing their Texas debut, taking advantage of multiple exits from a venerable Houston-based firm.
Texas-based Andrews Kurth has seen several group departures while in merger discussions with Virginia-based Hunton & Williams.
Shearman & Sterling has been in advanced talks to hire lawyers in both Houston and Austin, two sources said. White & Case has been preparing to open in Houston with the hires of Vinson & Elkins corporate partner James Cuclis, and has also reportedly hired Andrews Kurth corporate partners Charlie Ofner and Chris Richardson.
A Shearman & Sterling spokeswoman said the firm was not able to comment. A White & Case spokesman also declined to comment. Cuclis, Ofner and Richardson did not immediately return calls for comment.
The draw of major deals and related litigation involving energy and infrastructure companies has already brought several New York firms to Houston, including Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Meanwhile, Kelley Drye & Warren in late 2016 entered the Texas market by acquiring an environmental litigation boutique in Austin and Houston.
Not all the offices pan out. Six years after opening its Houston office, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft confirmed in early 2017 it would shutter its outpost there.
While Houston’s position as an energy epicenter has attracted many Am Law 200 firms, fewer firms outside Texas commit to moving to Austin. However, sources said Andrews Kurth’s business in Austin, including tech transactions and venture capital deal work, has generated interest from other firms.