On Jan. 17, San Francisco’s Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold opened in Houston with the arrival of four new attorneys. Carrie Weitinger, Julia Adams, and associate Monica Fendler are leaving Houston’s Westmoreland Hall to join the new office; former Germer Gertz associate Shannon Thorne is also coming aboard. Sedgwick’s TX managing partner reported that the firm wanted to open an office in Houston because the city is one of the country’s major litigation centers. Opened in 2001, Dallas was the firm’s first Texas office, and Austin was second in 2006. In total, Sedgwick has 370 attorneys in 13 offices worldwide.
Next month, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin of Houston, TX will be expanding. With the acquisition of three partners and one associate from the Philadelphia office of Washington, D.C.’s Miller & Chevalier, Chamberlain Hrdlicka will open their own office in Philly. Herbert Odell, Philip Karter and Kevin Johnson will join Chamberlain Hrdlicka as shareholders. Jonathan Prokup joins the firm as a senior associate. Chamberlain Hdrlicka started in 1965 as a regional tax boutique, but later added an office in Atlanta; there is the possibility that another office may open by the summer in Washington D.C.
Houston’s Susman Godfrey leads the pack for year-end associate bonuses, paying its associates double or more what high-performers at many large Texas firms could earn. At the 85-lawyer litigation boutique, 2006 bonuses for its partnership-track associates ranged $60,000 to $120,000. In comparison, for many big TX firms, $65,000 was the maximum bonus for their senior and top performing associates in 2006. Though the bonuses varied between firms, most agreed that for an associate to earn the maximum amount, he/she would have to be a great worker, have put in a large number of hours, and have made an overall contribution to the firm (eg pro bono work or business development).
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius opened a Houston office on Jan. 2 with the arrival of five new lawyers from litigation boutique Edwards, Burns & Krider. Brady Edwards, one of the five, commented that the team at Edwards Burns did a lot of products liability and toxic tort work, which was sometimes hard to do at a small firm, so they took the opportunity to move to 1,353-lawyer Morgan Lewis. Morgan Lewis first came to Texas in 2004, when it opened an office in Dallas. The firm was founded in Philadelphia, has 22 offices with the new Houston addition.