08 Jun 2021

O'Melveny takes Thompson & Knight energy quartet to launch Austin office

Team includes Thompson & Knight's former Austin office head Phillip Oldham

Phillip Oldham (L) and Rex VanMiddlesworth (R) Image courtesy of O’Melveny & Myers

O’Melveny has hired a team of four lawyers from Thompson & Knight to support the firm's launch in Austin, its first office in Texas.

The team includes partner Phillip Oldham and senior counsel Rex VanMiddlesworth, who have already joined the firm, and partners Benjamin Hallmark and Katie Coleman who will be following soon. The quartet’s energy-focused practice covers project development, acquisitions, infrastructure, regulation and litigation.

Bradley Butwin, O’Melveny’s chair, said: “Many of our most significant matters over the past 10 years have been for Texas-based companies with global footprints. And today, much of the demand for legal services in Texas aligns with O’Melveny’s core strengths. The time is right for us to establish a Texas presence.”

Oldham was previously Thompson & Knight’s Austin office head, while Coleman was previously leader of the firm’s government and regulatory practice. All four, including VanMiddlesworth and Hallmark, joined Thompson & Knight in 2014 from Andrews Kurth, where VanMiddlesworth was managing partner of its Austin office.

Mark Samuels, O’Melveny's vice chair, said: “All four are top-notch lawyers and recognised leaders in their field whose approach to client service fits nicely with our own. They will be an important part of the team as O’Melveny builds its Texas presence and provides our clients with additional services and support.”

Joining the foursome will be O’Melveny’s intellectual property and technology chair Ryan Yagura, who will split his time between Los Angeles and the new Austin office.

Oldham said: “The firm’s stellar reputation was an obvious draw, but the most compelling attraction was its distinctive culture, commitment to diversity and exemplary teamwork.”

O’Melveny is the latest US firm to expand its footprint in Texas. Last month Winston & Strawn boosted it Houston office with a duo of former Thompson & Knight partners – capital markets and energy specialists James Brown and Douglas Lionberger.

In April, Silicon Valley firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian opened in Austin, led by former Vinson & Elkins partner Wesley Watts as the firm seeks to tap into the city’s burgeoning startup scene. Gunderson’s move came after Kirkland & Ellis also opened up shop in Austin earlier that month, led by a quartet of existing Kirkland partners who relocated from Houston and Chicago.

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