O’Melveny & Myers is opening a Dallas office with four partners from Norton Rose Fulbright, just three weeks after expanding into Austin.
Louis Strubeck, Jr., who served as global and U.S. head of Norton Rose’s restructuring and insolvency practice, is joining O’Melveny to launch its newest office. He’s joined by Scott Paul Drake, who was the regional head of litigation at Norton Rose, as well as partners H. Douglas Wabner and Gregory Wilkes.
The launch of the firm’s Dallas office comes after O’Melveny picked up four lawyers from Thompson & Knight to launch its office in Austin earlier this month. That move included the head of Thompson & Knight’s office in the Texan capital, Phillip Oldham, along with Katie Coleman, who was firmwide head of Thompson & Knight’s government and regulatory practice.
After taking stock of its work and relationships in Texas, O’Melveny chair Bradley Butwin and Strubeck began initial conversations about opening in Dallas, where he laid out O’Melveny’s vision for Texas, said Butwin in an interview with Bloomberg Law on Tuesday.
This included deepening relationships with existing clients, as well as its areas of strength, like restructuring, IP, litigation and infrastructure. But, with the addition of Strubeck and the team from Norton Rose, Butwin said the firm will be able to further build out its restructuring activities as well as its litigation, life sciences and products liability practices.
“It’s really a perfect complement and we couldn’t be happier,” Butwin said.
Though O’Melveny’s restructuring practice has a strong presence in New York and California, it doesn’t in Texas, and the opportunity to help expand that was big attraction, Strubeck said.
“Right now there’s probably no more popular venue in the country for large, complex cases than Texas,” Strubeck said.
Strubeck has represented major banks and institutional lenders as creditors, creditor and ad hoc committees, distressed and private equity funds, and corporate debtors in large, complex restructurings. He has worked with the likes of CHC Helicopters, Adeptus Health, Samson Energy, Sabine Oil and Gas, Quicksilver, Overseas Shipholding Group, and General Motors, among others. He, along with Wilkes, will join O’Melveny’s restructuring practice.
Drake, whose practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, will join O’Melveny’s bankruptcy litigation practice. Wabner, who focuses on products liability and class action defense, will join its product liability and mass torts practice.
“It was a really exciting opportunity for me to be part of something that was going to be new, be able to build something,” said Strubeck, who helped launch Fulbright & Jaworski’s Dallas office in 1987.
More and More Relevant
Dallas is a “perfect complement” to its Austin office, Butwin said, noting that the firm was initially agnostic as to which office would open first.
Some of its clients and traditional core practices practices, like restructuring, are more Dallas-centric, whereas its Austin office melds with its infrastructure practice and its Silicon Valley and technology capabilities that also marry up with its energy practice, Butwin said.
Butwin told Bloomberg Law earlier this month that the firm’s expansion into Texas was “a natural extension” of what O’Melveny had already been doing.
O’Melveny has long represented some of the Lone Star State’s largest companies, including Dallas-headquartered AT&T Inc. and Time Warner, Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group Inc., and Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp.
“The plan is to continue to build out in areas where we’re strong, or we believe we can quickly become strong, and areas that play well to our client base,” Butwin said of the firm’s ambitions in Dallas, noting that there will be “steady growth” in the near term.
O’Melveny’s move into Dallas makes it just the latest entrant into the northern Texas city that already boasts a strong roster of both native and non-native Big Law firms.
Kirkland & Ellis, Reed Smith, Shearman & Sterling, Sidley Austin, Winston & Strawn and Weil Gotshal & Manges, along with Texas-founded firms like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Baker Botts, Vinson & Elkins and Haynes and Boone, all have offices in the city. Quinn Emanuel is also mulling opening an office in Dallas after its initial plans to do so unraveled.
As for O’Melveny, its Texas ambitions might extend beyond Dallas and Austin. “Houston is a great market and we’ll just have to see,” Butwin said. But, before any decision is made, it intends to build out its existing offices in Texas with top quality talent, he said.
“There are all kinds of opportunities in Texas and with each passing day, Texas becomes more and more relevant,” Strubeck said.