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High-profile market moves in 2018 in Texas include White & Case’s new office in Houston , Shearman & Sterling’s new office in Austin (with one in the works in Houston ,) and a new office in Dallas for Katten Muchin Rosenman, which has Houston and Austin offices. Additionally, Houston-based Andrews Kurth Kenyon is merging on April 2 with Virginia firm Hunton & Williams, while Dallas-based Gardere Wynne Sewell is in merger talks with Foley & Lardner. Another Dallas-based firm, Strasburger & Price, is in talks with Clark Hill. The firm leaders who participated in the survey are more bullish on their firms’ future prospects than on the Texas legal market as a whole. A total of 84 percent were optimistic about the future of their own firm, but only 69 percent were optimistic about the future of the overall environment for Texas law firms. A total of 65 percent of the leaders expect the level of competition from out-of-state firms will grow some, and 24 percent said it will grow significantly. Only 11 percent expect it to decrease. The firm leaders said the top objectives of combining with another firm are to increase profitability, put the firm on a long-term path to stability, enhance a competitive position relative to larger competing firms, and bolster the firm’s breadth and depth in a chosen area of strength. Litigation is the area that the law firm leaders most want to expand over the next three to five years, with 56 percent targeting that practice. Additionally, 40 percent want to expand corporate, 27 percent are looking to add in labor and employment, 24 percent in energy and 23 percent in real estate. Zimmermann pointed out that the demographics of the firms included in the survey may be a factor in that litigation-heavy result. About 58 percent of the headcount of the firms that responded focus on litigation, followed by 16 percent on real estate, 15 percent on corporate work, 13 percent on intellectual property and 7 percent on energy.
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