Mark Solomon

Seven Andrews Kurth Kenyon partners in Dallas, led by office managing partner Mark Solomon, have left to open a Dallas office for Katten Muchin Rosenman.

The large group, which officially made the move Feb. 5, is the latest to depart Andrews Kurth this month as the Houston-based firm negotiates a merger with Virginia-based Hunton & Williams.  On Feb. 1, three partners left Andrews Kurth to join DLA Piper’s Dallas office, and more lawyers are expected to join them there. Other deals are in the works, including reports that New York firms Shearman & Sterling and White & Case will open offices in Texas with Andrews Kurth lawyers.

Solomon, who in addition to being managing partner of the Dallas office of Andrews Kurth, was also a member of the firm’s executive and policy committees. The other Andrews Kurth partners moving to Katten Muchin are David Washburn, Victor Zanetti, Joseph Hoffman, Peter Bogdanow, William Rivers and William Moore.  Moore is a litigator, and the others do corporate work.

Others from Andrews Kurth may join the group at Katten. “We expect to have most of our whole team come,” Solomon said.

Andrews Kurth declined to comment.

Katten Muchin, which has offices in Houston and Austin, started looking at opening an office in Dallas in late 2016 because the city is in one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and a hotbed for real estate investment, said Roger Furey, the firm’s Washington, D.C.-based chairman.  Furrey said the goal was to find a very good group of lawyers in finance and corporate, which are strong practice areas for the firm. The Andrews Kurth group fit the bill, he said.

“They’ve been rock-solid corporate guys with very strong ties in the business community in Dallas for 25-plus years. They’ve been together for a long time. They are our kind of people in how they operate and have a fire in their belly,” Furey said.

The firm opened offices in Austin in 2012 and in Houston in 2013.

Furey said he’s known Solomon and several of the other lawyers for years because they all formerly worked at Arter & Hadden, a Cleveland-based firm that dissolved in 2003. Solomon was managing partner of Arter & Hadden’s office in Dallas and later firm-wide managing partner. In 2003, Solomon and a group in Dallas that included Hoffman, Zanetti, Washburn and Rivers joined Andrews Kurth in Dallas after Arter & Hadden closed its doors.

Solomon said he and others in his group talked to Furey on and off and casually for many years because of their friendship, but didn’t enter into serious negotiations on a lateral move until a few months ago.

“Roger was first and pretty much our only call. We got to know Katten pretty quickly. It’s everything Roger sort of softly indicated it was when we talked casually—high entrepreneurial, a really, really good place for our clients. No issues in terms of expertise, rates, people thinking the same way on clients,” he said.

When asked if Andrews Kurth’s merger negotiations affected their decision to leave, Solomon said, “I don’t think anybody has anything but fond feelings for Andrews Kurth. We think the world of it.”

Solomon declined to identify clients, but Furey said Katten Muchin has a number of clients in Dallas, including a large insurance company and a home care company. Nationally, the firm represents nine of the 10 largest banks and nine of the 10 largest investment bankers, he said.

Furey expects the Dallas office to grow to 30 or 40 lawyers over the next few years, not only because Dallas is a strong market but also because of the quality of the team opening the office.

“The legal industry is kind of flat across the board, but Dallas seems to be attractive on so many levels—the talent pool and the businesses locating there,” he said.