David Elrod, left, and Worthy Walker, right, of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton in Dallas. Courtesy photos

After years of practicing at litigation boutiques, Dallas trial lawyer David Elrod has moved to regional firm Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton along with three other lawyers he has practiced with for years.

Elrod and Worthy Walker joined Dallas-based Shackelford Bowen as partners on Monday, along with of counsel Barbara Wohlrabe and associate Hayley Ellison. The commercial litigation group came from Gruber Hail Johansen Shank, which was Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank before the departures.

“It was important for me to go to a regional full-service firm, rather than staying in a trial boutique, in order to better service my clients. I looked around quite a bit and decided after numerous meetings with John Shackelford and his partners that this firm fit my management style as well as collegial culture,” Elrod said.

Elrod said he and partners at Shackelford Bowen, which specializes in aviation, general business and entertainment law, have also talked about opening an office in Houston—a move that would help him service his energy clients in Houston and build that energy litigation practice.

“I’ve represented my big clients in the energy business since 2003 and I’ve never had a Houston office. I just thought it would be nice to have one,” he said.

Elrod said he’s been “preaching trial boutique forever,” but with the changing legal market in Dallas, with national firms opening offices and regional firms expanding, it made sense to move to Shackelford Bowen. Before deciding on Shackelford Bowen, Elrod said he talked with two national firms looking to open offices in Dallas, and also two regional firms. He said a regional firm such as Shackelford Bowen allows the lawyers to keep their regional billing rates and also avoid the conflicts that can occur with a large firm.

John Shackelford, a founding partner at Shackelford Bowen, said in a statement that the four-lawyer group is a significant addition to the firm, adding trial strength and an energy litigation practice. “It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to bring upper-tier litigators such as David and his team into your firm,” he said.

In April 2015, Elrod merged his litigation boutique Elrod PLLC with the firm then known as Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank, creating a 30-lawyer litigation boutique in Dallas. Elrod had managed Elrod PLLC for 15 years before that.

When asked about the departures, Mark Shank, managing partner of the 20-lawyer Gruber Hail, said, “David and we decided we would separate our practices and we wish him well.”

“It was a mutual decision to decouple, go our separate ways,” Elrod said.

Elrod’s group isn’t the only one to leave Gruber Hail since the merger. In February 2016, former Gruber Hail name partner Michael Hurst left the firm with six other lawyers to join Mike Lynn’s civil litigation firm in Dallas,

Elrod declined to identify clients, but he said 70 percent are energy-related and his clients include some of the largest natural gas transportation companies in North America.

Shackelford Bowen has 51 lawyers in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Nashville.