Blank Rome launches in Dallas with six partners from four rivals

Corporate, real estate and finance lawyers join from firms including Alston & Bird and Locke Lord

Blank Rome has expanded in Texas’ bustling legal market with the hire of six partners to launch an office in Dallas. 

The new office, the firm’s second in Texas after Houston, will be co-chaired by Steven Block and Jason Luter, who have joined the firm’s corporate, M&A and securities group as partners from Block & McNeill and Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath respectively. 

Finance partners Mark Harris and Michael Thimmig are also joining for the launch from Alston & Bird alongside real estate partner Justin Mapes, who has moved over from Locke Lord. 

Completing the new arrivals is corporate partner Christopher McNeill, who has joined from Block & McNeill alongside an associate – representing all of that firm’s lawyers – a paralegal and an office coordinator. 

“Dallas is a thriving business community and we are thrilled to open an office here,” said Grant Palmer, Blank Rome’s chair and managing partner. “Establishing an office in Dallas has been a strategic priority of our firm for some time to better serve our clients who are based in or do business in Dallas and North Texas. We have been committed to entering the market with a team of leading attorneys who not only have exceptional experience but also fit together as a cohesive and collaborative team. We are excited about Blank Rome’s future in Dallas and are looking forward to continued growth.” 

Block brings more than 40 years’ legal experience in corporate and securities law to Blank Rome and focuses his practice on M&A, corporate governance, corporate contracts, hedge funds, project finance and private equity. Before founding Block & McNeill in 2007 he practised for a number of years at Boston-based firm Fish & Richardson. 

For his part, Luter advises clients on corporate ownership succession planning transactions involving employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), including seller-financed and leveraged and non-leveraged buyouts, and provides ongoing legal counsel to ESOP-owned companies. He practised at Faegre Drinker for almost five years before joining Blank Rome and before that was a partner at Foley Lardner. 

Meantime Harris’ finance practice focuses on structured finance and securitisation transactions alongside general corporate transactions, while Thimmig counsels clients on structured finance, fintech, mortgage banking and secured lending transactions. Before joining Alston & Bird they were partners at legacy firm Andrews Kurth Kenyon and Perkins Coie respectively. 

Mapes was deputy general counsel at Highgate Hotels before joining Locke Lord early last year and focuses his practice on real estate and commercial transactions, with an emphasis on the financing, acquisition, development and disposition of commercial real estate property. 

Finally McNeill, who was an associate at Fish & Richardson before founding Block & McNeill, works with clients at all stages of the corporate life cycle, including entity formation, corporate restructuring, securities financing and M&A. 

The firm’s launch in Dallas follows its opening in Houston in 2010 with the hire of Joseph Speelman, a former associate general counsel and chief of litigation for firm client LyondellBasell. Since then the firm has expanded in Houston through a number of tie-ups with local boutiques and today has more than 40 attorneys in the city covering corporate, litigation, finance and restructuring, intellectual property, maritime, and labour and employment law. 

“We are very excited to welcome the new Dallas team to the firm,” said partner Cassandra Mott, who co-chairs the Houston office alongside Susan Bickley. “They are a tremendous group of attorneys and their experience aligns with our strengths and complements our strong transactional and litigation teams in Houston.” 

“It was clear to all of us that Blank Rome appreciated the strategic importance of Dallas to its successful national footprint, and is committed to growing in the market,” Luter added. “With so many of the nation’s leading private equity firms, family offices, commercial banks and consumer credit companies based here, there is strong demand for high-level finance, real estate and corporate legal counsel. Blank Rome has built an incredible reputation in these areas and we are excited to work with our colleagues across the firm to support our clients and build the office.” 

The hires mark the third large group to join Blank Rome in as many months. Since the start of May the firm has also added a team of nine litigators in New York from Akerman and a nine-strong group of international trade attorneys and legal professionals in Washington DC from McDermott Will & Emery

Other law firms to launch in Dallas recently include Am Law 200 firm Hinshaw & Culbertson and Boston-based trial firm Manning Gross + Massenburg. Litigation heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan also opened in the city last August with seven lawyers from other offices, marking the firm’s third location in the Lone Star state after Austin and Houston. 

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