(L to R) Robert Harrell, William Davis II, Brian Cody Boyle.

In start-of-the-year lateral moves in Houston, Mayer Brown beefed up its litigation strength by adding partner Robert Harrell from Norton Rose Fulbright, which in turn picked up corporate, M&A and securities partner William D. Davis II from Baker McKenzie.

In another move, commercial litigator Brian Cody Boyle left Norton Rose Fulbright to join Lightfoot, Franklin & White as a partner in the year-old office in Houston.

Harrell, who joined Mayer Brown’s litigation and dispute resolution practice, had led Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. financial institutions and insurance litigation practice and had been at the firm, and predecessor Fulbright & Jaworski, for a total of 39 years. He joined Mayer Brown on Jan. 5.

Harrell said he could not pass up the opportunity to help Mayer Brown grow the litigation and disputes practice in Texas, nationally and globally. He said the firm’s strong client relationships in the financial institution, energy and insurance industries is something he can leverage.

“My practice was compatible with Mayer Brown’s and we shared clients and we didn’t have … conflicts,” Harrell said. He declined to identify his clients, but said he brings several matters with him.

Neil Wasserstrom, the partner-in-charge of the Mayer Brown Houston office, said the firm was looking for a “well-respected, experienced trial lawyer to come over here and provide additional depth for our litigation practice.”

Wasserstrom said about 10 of the 55 lawyers in the Houston office do litigation.

Davis, who joined Norton Rose Fulbright on Jan. 2, said the lateral move will “open up an exciting new chapter” in his career. He said he has worked with lawyers at his new firm before and was always impressed with the firm’s client service, experience, professionalism and reputation. He also said the firm’s strong corporate practice and global reach will benefit his practice.

He declined to identify clients he brought with him.

Daryl Lansdale, Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. managing partner, said in a statement that Davis’ “corporate knowledge and client-first mindset” complements the firm’s client service focus.

When asked for a comment on Davis’ departure, Jonathan Newton, managing partner of the Baker McKenzie office in Houston, said, “Will is a good friend I’ve known since 2000. We thank Will for all his contributions to Baker McKenzie over the years. We truly wish him well as he embarks on this new opportunity.”

Boyle, who joined Alabama-based litigation firm Lightfoot Franklin on Jan. 8, has focused in recent years on work in the energy sector, but tried nearly 20 suits to verdict for the city of Houston, and also does cross-border litigation and arbitration. He declined to identify clients.

Boyle said he was looking to join a litigation-only firm where he has freedom to develop his practice, can rely on a big bench of trial lawyers, and has the opportunity to do contingency-fee commercial work. He said he knew some lawyers at Lightfoot and the firm feels like a good fit.

Melody Eagan, a partner in Birmingham who is Lightfoot’s managing partner, said in a statement that Boyle is a “great addition to our team.”

Norton Rose Fulbright did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the departures of Harrell or Boyle.