(L-to-R) Richard Chang and Rick Daniel.

Dykema Cox Smith has added 11 lawyers in Dallas over the last eight months—a number boosted by the recent hiring of health care member Richard Cheng and corporate finance senior counsel Rick Daniel.

Both Cheng, a former shareholder at Dallas’s Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr, and Daniel, a shareholder at Polsinelli in Dallas, joined Dykema Cox Smith in late January. The firm announced the lateral hires on Feb. 5.

Christopher Kratovil, Dykema Cox Smith’s managing member in Dallas, said Cheng and Daniel fill two practice needs in Dallas. Kratovil said he has been given a mandate to expand the office.

“Obviously health care is as hot as any sector in any legal practice and we’ve brought in one of the top health care lawyers in north Texas. And with Rick, we have been looking for a commercial lending lawyer since our combination with Cox Smith,” Kratovil said.

In 2015, San Antonio-based Cox Smith Matthews merged with Detroit-based Dykema Gossett. The firm is known as Dykema Cox Smith in Texas, where it has offices in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.

Cheng, who concentrates some of his practice on medical cannabis law, said he moved to Dykema Cox Smith because the firm is a better fit for growth of his practice. He joined Munsch Hardt in November 2016, along with ERISA lawyer Quitman “Q” Stephens, because their former firm—Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller—was dissolving. “We needed to reach fast, react quickly to get out and go somewhere,” he said.

Cheng said Stephens moved to Bracewell a few months later. He said he then realized that his health care practice was a “silo” at Munsch Hardt, so he started talking to other firms. “I just want the best fit for my practice. It’s a good firm. It has smart lawyers,” Cheng said of Munsch Hardt. “The focus, a lot of it, is on real estate and bankruptcy.”

Cheng said one other lawyer in the Dykema Cox Smith Dallas office, Lea Courington, does health care work, but there is an entire practice group up in Michigan.  Also, Cheng notes, his new firm has other lawyers who do cannabis work.

Daniel said he and Kratovil have known one another for years, and formerly practiced together at Hughes & Luce and K&L Gates. At breakfast one day, Daniel said he and Kratovil started talking about the Dallas office’s need for a lawyer with his background in commercial lending. Kratovil said he sees a lot of potential for the growth of Daniel’s practice at Dykema Cox Smith.

Cheng and Daniel each declined to identify their clients, although Cheng said his clients in the medical cannabis area are mostly producers.

Kratovil said the firm is adding 8,500 square feet of office space in Dallas to accommodate more hiring. The office currently has 41 lawyers, but Kratovil wants to build it to 50.

“Dallas may be the best legal market in the entire country right now, and my mandate is to grow this office,” he said.

Phil Appenzeller, chief executive officer of Munsch Hardt, said the firm wishes Cheng well at his new firm. No one at Polsinelli could immediately be reached for comment regarding Daniel’s departure.