- Law firms
- The combined firm has over 300 lawyers in Texas and an appetite to add more, says managing partner Steven Sonberg
- Several partners left legacy Thompson & Knight before the merger became official this week
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Aug 2 – Holland & Knight has officially wrapped up its merger with Dallas-based, 275-lawyer Thompson & Knight, expanding key practices and substantially beefing up its presence in the Lone Star State’s hot legal market.
The merger, which became effective Sunday, cements the largest law firm combination to be announced since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. last year. The merged firm, which will keep the name Holland & Knight, has more than 1,600 lawyers and other professionals spread across 30 offices.
Miami-based Holland & Knight said it’s now one of the largest U.S. law firms in Texas, with more than 300 lawyers spread across Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. The merger has also boosted the firm’s strength in litigation, corporate M&A and private equity, energy and other practices.
“Texas has been important to us and of interest to us since 2013 when we opened our Dallas office. We’ve been interested in growing from that standpoint,” said Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us going forward.”
Sonberg said the firm is looking to further expand in Texas, where Duane Morris, Kirkland & Ellis, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Rimon have all opened new offices this year. Austin and other Texas cities have stood out since 2020 as magnets for technology and other companies looking to expand or – like Oracle Corp – relocate their headquarters there.
In addition to the technology industry, growth in the Texas legal market is being driven by alternative energy development, restructuring and distressed asset dealmaking, according to recent by Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group and Hildebrandt Consulting.
The newly-combined firm also has some rebuilding to do in the state. Since the merger’s announcement in early April, Thompson & Knight has seen a steady stream of high-profile defections, including the one-time head of its Dallas office to Sidley Austin and the head of its Austin office to O’Melveny & Myers.
Those departures continued on Monday, when Houston-based Bracewell announced it had picked up a team of seven healthcare regulatory and litigation lawyers from Thompson & Knight, including Wilson Jones, the chair of its healthcare practice group.
Both Sonberg and Mark Sloan, the former managing partner of Thompson & Knight who is now vice chair of Holland & Knight’s senior management group, said they expected some departures to occur, noting the size of Holland & Knight and the potential conflicts that could arise.
“There wasn’t any second-guessing or doubts on our side of the table,” Sloan said.
Sonberg echoed the point, noting the U.S. lateral market and the legal market in Texas are both highly active. With the merger complete, Holland & Knight is in a better position to compete for talent, especially in Texas, he added.
In the meantime, Holland & Knight has already been in growth mode outside of Texas. Last month, the firm added a pair of M&A dealmakers from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe for its Orange County, California office and the Washington, D.C.-based co-leader of Hogan Lovells‘ real estate funds formation practice.
(Correction: This story was updated to reflect that a Thompson & Knight partner who joined Sidley Austin was not the immediate past leader of the firm’s Dallas office.)
David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.