(L-toR) Rob Hoffman and Marc Katz

Three lawyers, led by partner Marc Katz, have left Andrews Kurth Kenyon to join DLA Piper‘s Dallas office, with the firm expecting to announce more lateral hires next week.

Katz and Isabel Crosby joined as partners in the firm’s employment practice on Feb. 1, and Rob Hoffman joined as a partner in the litigation practice. Katz will be the Dallas office managing partner.

The  Andrews Kurth departures are not unexpected. Texas Lawyer reported earlier that at least 10 lawyers from Andrews Kurth’s Dallas office were expected to join DLA Piper around Feb. 1. Andrews Kurth is in merger negotiations with Virginia-based Hunton & Williams, and some lawyers have chosen to move to other firms while talks continue.

Additionally, both Shearman & Sterling and White & Case have been preparing to open offices in Texas by hiring lawyers from Andrews Kurth Kenyon, according to sources familiar with the hiring.

A spokeswoman for Andrews Kurth declined to comment.

John Gilluly, regional managing partner of DLA’s Texas offices, would not give details on further lateral hires from Andrews Kurth. “You can expect additional announcements, but I can’t say more than that,” he said.

Katz said others from Andrews Kurth, including partners and associates, will join them at DLA. He said the firm’s investment in Texas makes the firm attractive to laterals. “DLA definitely competes at the top end of the legal market, but it’s also entrepreneurial and collaborative. That allows it to compete on all levels of the legal market,” he said.

Gilluly said the firm’s strategic plan calls for adding top-tier practitioners in practice areas that serve clients in the region. He said the laterals are “tier one lawyers by anybody’s measuring stick.”

Gilluly said Katz brings a high-end employment practice on the management side, and Hoffman is an extremely well-known and highly regarded business litigator, particularly in the area of M&A litigation. Both of those practices add to the firm’s Dallas offerings, he said.

Katz, who does employment litigation, counseling, and transactional matters, was chair of the labor and employment practice at Andrews Kurth and served on the management committee. Hoffman was a co-head of an interdisciplinary M&A team at Andrews Kurth.

Hoffman said he is attracted to DLA Piper’s global reach after a career spent working successfully at “preeminent super-regional law firms” in Dallas. Prior to Andrews Kurth, Hoffman worked at Gardere Wynne Sewell and the former Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox, which dissolved a decade ago.

“As good as they were, I found it difficult to differentiate one from the other in marketing, in my business development, which basically forced me in large part to sell me instead of the firm. With so many Fortune 500 companies in north Texas, I was really drawn to this opportunity to offer one-stop shopping on a global basis,” Hoffman said.

He noted that DLA is providing the office with the resources to grow thoughtfully and quickly. “It’s completely entrepreneurial,” he said.

Hoffman declined to say if Andrews Kurth’s merger negotiations with Hunton were a factor in his decision to change firms. “I support Andrews Kurth completely in its merger,” he said.

But Katz said the merger talks involving Andrews Kurth, a firm he joined in 2009, did prompt him last fall to look around. “It was a factor in me exploring options, but it was really me being sold on the DLA platform and what DLA is committed to bringing to the Texas market,” Katz said.

Katz said Highland Capital is a significant client, and he does a significant amount of work for professional sports teams in north Texas. Hoffman declined to identify clients he brought with him to DLA.

In addition to Dallas, DLA has offices in Houston and Austin.