Patrick Whalen, managing partner of Spencer Fane.

Spencer Fane, a growing firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, that opened an office in Dallas in 2016, has expanded in the market with an office in Plano—just 20 miles north.

Paul Sander, a real estate attorney, joined the 210-lawyer firm on Monday and is managing partner of the new Collin County office. Sander came from Strasburger & Price, where he had been the partner-in-charge of the firm’s Collin County office in Frisco.

Patrick Whalen, managing partner of Spencer Fane, said the firm expanded into Collin County because of a solid roster of business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and because he’s impressed with the number of talented laterals he’s talked to about joining the Collin County office.

“We think Dallas is a big part of our future,” Whalen said.

Whalen also said the firm has had success with a strategy of two offices in a market—one downtown and one in a suburban area. Spencer Fane has dual offices in the Kansas City market and in the St Louis market, he said. That structure resonates with clients not based in the urban core, he said, and also with lateral talent who may not want to drive downtown every day.

“Existing clients, they have spoken. Significant numbers prefer having the option” of two offices, Whalen said.

Paul Sander.

Sander said there is a lot of development going on in Collin County, which provides opportunity for the firm to develop business. “It’s still one big market for Dallas/Fort Worth, but being here, being local, will provide some opportunity,” he said.

Sander made the lateral move, he said, because he was looking for a new challenge, and is excited by Spencer Fane’s plans to expand in Texas. Sander expects the firm to add at least five lawyers this year in Collin County.

“Eight hundred headhunters call, and every once in a while you listen to what they have to say. I took a meeting with Pat Whalen, the managing partner, and we just clicked. I like the business side as well as being a practicing lawyer, so we were able to talk about those type of things,” Sander said.

Spencer Fane has targeted several areas with “hot economies” for expansion this year, including Dallas, Denver and Phoenix, Sander said. Since March 2017, the firm has opened new offices in Phoenix, St. Louis and Las Vegas.

Sander declined to identify his clients, but said they include real estate developers, an investment firm and an IT consulting firm.