Meckler, Bulger & Tilson will open a Dallas office September 1st. The Chicago based office has recruit six attorneys from Baker & MacKenzie LLP’s Dallas office to begin the new insurance practice. This new office is part of a Southwestern expansion; Meckler Bulger & Tilson also has plans to open a Phoenix office. The firm’s major clients include Geico and Travelers Insurance.
Two more Texas firms have announced first-year salary increases. Dallas-based firms Jackson Walker and Gardere Wynne Sewell are matching the new TX market rate of $160,000. Gardere’s new starting salary will be effective Sept. 1, but there is no bonus associated with it. Jackson Walker’s raise will not be effective until Jan. 1, 2008; it includes a base salary of $140,000 plus a $20,000 bonus, $15,000 of which the new associates will receive immediately. Neither firm has decided on a new compensation structure for more senior associates.
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is rapidly adding partners (20 this year) and offices (three this year), yet its total headcount is growing slowly. The total number of attorneys has only grown by five, reaching 650, because some lawyers have left as the firm sharpens its strategic focus. The firm’s new offices are located in Dallas, Charlotte, and Menlo Park. Sonnenschein aims to expand its litigation, corporate, and real estate groups, and hopes to grow to 1,000 attorneys by 2009. Along the way the firm has lost lawyers due to its increasing emphasis on profitability and productivity standards.
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan has recruited top litigation partner, Rachel Giesber Clingman, for its Houston office. Formerly employed with Fulbright & Jaworski, Clingman will be the Co-Partner-in-Charge of the Houston office as well as the head of a national business litigation group. Clingman handles energy and environmental litigation, and was named as one of the five top Women in Energy by EnergyLaw360. Sutherland is dedicated in its efforts to expand its Texas energy practice; the Houston office has also added talent in other practices such as banking, real estate, and immigration. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Austin, Houston, New York, Tallahassee and Washington.
A group of three attorneys–Partner Michael E. Santa Maria, Of Counsel Todd Bowers, and associate Kevin Maher–has moved from DLA Piper to Baker McKenzie LLP’s Dallas office. The were recruited to expand Baker McKenzie’s complex commercial cross-border transactional practice. Both Santa Maria and Bowers have worked for Baker McKenzie previously as associates. The three hope to improve Baker McKenzie’s Latin American presence.
Dallas-based Haynes & Boone announced that all Texas associates’ salaries will now be at the market rate of $160,000 for first years. The salaries for second and third years will be $170,000; $180,00 for forth years; $190,000 for fifth years; $200,000 for sixth years; $205,000 for seventh years; and $210,000 for eighth years. Associates’ bonuses will also be increased to as much as $5,000 for first-years and up to $70,000 for eighth-year associates. Associate classes, as a group, must reach certain billable-hour totals for the bonuses to be distributed, but for the first time Haynes & Boone has also added individual billable-hour bonus goals.
Mary Keller has joined Winstead’s Austin office as a shareholder in the Corporate and Securities Group. Her work deals mostly with insurance regulation and regulatory litigation. Keller was formerly an Associate Commissioner of Insurance at the Texas Department of Insurance, as well as a former Texas First Assistant Attorney General. With offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, The Woodlands, TX, and Washington, D.C., Winstead is one of the largest business law firms in Texas.
Houston-based law firm Yetter & Warden LLP has opened an office in Austin which will have six or seven attorneys. The Austin office will focus on a national apellate practice and major clients include American Airlines, General Electric, Levi Strauss & Co., and Southwest Airlines. Greg Coleman, previously of Weil Gotshal & Manges’s national appellate practice in Austin, will head the new office.
Dallas-based Winstead has announced it will not be joining the other Texas firms that raised associate salaries. The new salary scale is effective today at Vinson & Elkins, the firm that started the move to $160,000 for 1st-years, and $170,000 for 2nd years. Winstead will continue to pay a starting base salary of $135,000, and will instead offer a merit-based bonus of up to $25,000. Denis Braham, chairman and chief executive officer of the firm, commented on the decision saying that Winstead would prefer to reward individual associates based on their contributions. He feels that bonuses will keep the firm competitive, attracting associates with a long-term view and who want to be rewarded for hard work.