u00a9iStock/Rawpixel

Houston-based Coats Rose opened an office in Cincinnati on Aug. 1 with four lateral hires from Jones Walker, expanding Coats Rose’s affordable housing practice in the Midwest. Because of the departures, New Orleans-based Jones Walker has closed its Cincinnati office.

Alysse Hollis and Ronald Bell joined Coats Rose as directors and John Peck and Robert Bruns are now of counsel in the firm’s Cincinnati office.

Barry Palmer, a director in Houston who heads the firm’s affordable housing and community development practice, said Coats Rose wants to expand the reach of its practice, which is already active in many states.

“They are a big addition to our game plan,” Palmer said.

Hollis said she and the others are eager to be part of Coats Rose’s strategy in Ohio and other Midwest markets. She said they have worked with Coats Rose affordable housing lawyers on many projects over several years.

Along with the four-lawyer team in Cincinnati, Coats Rose has 10 lawyers in the affordable housing practice in Texas and four in New Orleans. The group represents mainly developers, for-profit and nonprofit businesss, and public agencies such as public housing developers, Palmer said.

A big part of the practice involves helping clients renovate public housing through the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which converts public housing to the Section 8 housing program, he said.

“We represent most of the major housing authorities in Texas as well as some in Louisiana and surrounding states in their efforts to raise that money, mostly done through tax credits and tax-exempt bonds,” Palmer said. “There is a lot of work going on these days.”

Palmer said the lateral hires not only bring geographic reach to the practice, but also expertise. “They bring more background to us both in terms of tax expertise and bond expertise, while most of our lawyers are real estate lawyers by background,” he said.

Hollis said her area of expertise is working as bond counsel on affordable housing transactions. She said the group’s clients include Stifel Nicolaus, a bond underwriter, and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

With the new lawyers, Palmer said the firm will serve clients in Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Colorado, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida, the Carolinas and Washington, D.C.

The group of four lawyers joined Jones Walker in Cincinnati in 2013. In a written statement, Jones Walker managing partner Bill Hines said the firm wishes the departing lawyers well. “The affordable housing industry is transforming our region and our country and our Jones Walker team continues to serve our clients with their needs in all aspects of the housing arena,” he wrote.

Coats Rose is in expansion mode. The firm merged in January 2016 with Wright Ginsberg Brusilow of Dallas, and grew by 31 percent in 2016, moving to 93 lawyers compared with from 71 in 2015. The firm has offices in Houston, Dallas, Cincinnati, San Antonio, Austin and New Orleans.

In 2016, another large Texas firm, Locke Lord, based in Dallas, opened a Cincinnati office with two public finance lawyers.