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Quinn Emanuel Eyes Dallas Again After Scuttling Plan for City

June 24, 2021, 10:30 AM

Quinn Emanuel is still looking to open an office in Dallas some 18 months after the global law firm’s plan to launch in the city abruptly unraveled.

“Our Texas offices are thriving, and we are always looking at opportunities for potential growth,” firm spokesman Eric Herman told Bloomberg Law.

Quinn, the prestigious firm founded by Los Angeles litigator John Quinn, was set to plant a flag in Dallas with a small group of lawyers led by Vinson & Elkins partner Michael Holmes, according to sources familiar with the situation. The plan fell through in December 2019 after Holmes, who was elected Vinson’s vice chair in May, decided against the move and others backed out in response.

The firm has since opened an office in the Texas capital of Austin and expanded its presence in the energy-rich Houston market, while continuing to eye Dallas. It’s among a bevy of the country’s largest law firms increasingly looking to get a foothold in Texas by poaching attorneys with deep ties to the Lonestar State.

“Our firm remains busy with cases globally, including throughout the Southwest,” Herman said.

Holmes, through Vinson & Elkins spokesman Allan Schoenberg, declined to comment.

Quinn ranks among the country’s 30 largest firms and reported more than $1.3 billion in revenue to The American Lawyer last year. The firm’s 800-plus lawyers have been involved in a slew of high-profile corporate court battles since the firm was founded 35 years ago.

That includes representing a group of insurers who won part of a $12 billion judgment against the U.S. over Obamacare subsidies last year. Quinn lawyers also helped brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss obtain a reported $65 million settlement from Facebook Inc. over claims they came up with the original idea for the social media platform.

Tesla Inc., Oracle Corp., and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. are among Quinn clients that have recently announced they are shifting significant parts of their operations to Texas. Those moves, talk of a Texas “tech boom” and a wave of M&A and other transactional work have also caught the attention of the country’s largest law firms.

Kirkland & Ellis, Reed Smith, Shearman & Sterling, Winston & Strawn and Foley Lardner are among the big firms that have opened new offices in Dallas in the last four years. Several firms have also launched in Houston and Austin over the same period.

“There has been a disruption of the traditional Texas-based firms for a decade and the pandemic hasn’t helped,” Yvette Ostolaza, a Dallas lawyer who was recently named Sidley Austin’s incoming chair,” told Bloomberg Law.

“Opening a new office in a market that is already saturated is not a recipe for success,” Ostolaza said. “Firms are being more careful about opening a new office in Houston and Dallas.”

Out-of-state firms looking to make their mark in Texas tend to rely heavily on what locals call “tent poles,” lawyers already on the ground and with significant local books of businesses. Who qualifies for that role depends on the firm.

Quinn launched its Houston office in 2014 by acquiring local litigation boutique Gerger & Clarke and making Houston trial lawyer David Gerger the office’s managing partner. The firm’s four-lawyer Austin office is led by John Bash, a former U.S. Attorney in the city, and Asher Griffin, who spent 16 years at a local firm.

Holmes, who turned down the job at Quinn, will share vice chair duties at Vinson with two other lawyers in a new position recently created by the firm.

He is a seasoned litigator best known for his work in Delaware Chancery Court, an active setting for a wide variety of business disputes. He has represented a number of energy companies in litigation in the court, including Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity and Houston’s Hiland Partners.

Quinn has opened new offices in Atlanta and Miami since the Dallas venture was scuttled.

“We are expanding because the business warrants it,” Herman said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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