Duane Morris is expanding its presence in Texas with a new office in Austin and two new hires.
Intellectual property partner Bert Greene is joining from Norton Rose Fulbright, and renewable energy law partner Brad Thompson comes to the firm from King & Spalding.
The firm said Austin provides opportunities in the high-technology and energy sectors. Thomas Sankey, managing partner of the firm’s Houston office, will now oversee both Texas offices, splitting his time between them.
Austin makes for Duane Morris’ 29th office, and its 21st in the United States. The firm has had a presence in Texas for almost two decades, since it opened in Houston in 1999.
Sankey said the new office is part of a strategy to enhance Duane Morris’ overall presence in Texas, with a Dallas office “hopefully in the near future.” He has plans to continue adding to Austin, and is already in talks with multiple potential lateral hires, both individual attorneys and groups.
“We really would like the eventual presence in Austin to look like our law firm, and thus have a presence in all of our practice areas,” Sankey said.
The firm has a number of clients in Austin and attorneys from all over the country travel there on a regular basis, he said.
Some of those clients include AT&T, Dell and Cisco.
The Austin legal market is “thriving,” Sankey said, but the legal community there is more of a “close-knit and small group.” Greene likewise described it as “a robust market, but everyone knows everyone.”
Greene’s practice is in intellectual property rights procurement and enforcement, with a particular focus on patent litigation. His clients include a variety of businesses and involve technologies such as wireless networks, e-commerce systems, geographic information systems, computer hardware and graphics and DNA analysis. He started at Norton Rose in 2004, as an associate, and became a partner in 2012.
Choosing to leave that firm was difficult, Greene said, but he was interested in the chance to build up a new market for Duane Morris. They have some clients in common, he said, but great overlap in the sectors they serve. Greene said Duane Morris’ international expansion focused on Asia was a draw as well.
“I had a lot of experience working with Duane Morris lawyers in my practice,” he said. “I knew they had a really strong IP platform which meshes really well with my practice.”
Thompson said he and Greene met in law school, and they have a number of common contacts in their practices.
“Having a chance to partner up with some of the Houston corporate lawyers will give me a better chance to serve some of my clients,” Thompson said.
Thompson works with clients on both conventional and renewable power generation issues. He represents energy developers and counsels clients on regulatory and compliance mattes at the state and federal levels. He joined King & Spalding in 2008, then left in 2013 to serve as president and general counsel for Circular Energy, a solar energy company. He returned to King & Spalding in 2014.
In a statement Monday, Norton Rose’s U.S. managing partner, Daryl Lansdale, wished Greene well.
“While many of our lawyers have made their careers here, others choose different paths,” Lansdale said.
A spokeswoman for King & Spalding did not respond to a request for comment.