Shearman & Sterling Opens in Houston

The Houston skyline stands after Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Estimates for damages caused by Hurricane Harvey are climbing with the storm poised to regain strength in the Gulf of Mexico before crashing back on land. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Shearman & Sterling is expanding its presence in Texas, hiring six partners and opening a new office in Houston.

The firm opened an office in Austin this past March. The two locations are part of the firm’s drive to expand its global energy capabilities, especially in oil and gas transactions and projects. The practice currently services clients in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.

The addition is part of the firm’s strategy under the leadership of David Beveridge who became the firm’s senior partner on March 1. His title is the equivalent of firm chairman. Beveridge had indicated that he would focus on growing the firm’s client base in the U.S.

Although the 850-lawyer firm has offices overseas, Beveridge said he wanted to increase corporate transactional work in the U.S. and raise the percentage of its attorneys working inside the country.

“The expansion in Texas is consistent with our strategy to grow in the United States,” Beveridge said in a phone interview.

“We want to grow in Texas by a good 50 to 60 attorneys,” he said. Of those, he added, 15 to 20 will be partners. And most, but not all, will be lateral hires, Beveridge said.

The Houston office will focus on energy transactions, and the Austin office will work in the area of energy growth and technology, he said. Hugh Tucker, who was the oil and gas practice head for Baker & Botts, which is also located in Houston, will oversee both offices.

Also joining the Houston office from Baker & Botts are Jeremy Kennedy and Coleson Bruce.

Sarah McLean and Todd Lowther join from Thompson & Knight. Also, Omar Sami will join from Jones Day.

McLean, who has experience in private equity transactional work, will be the Texas expansion’s deputy head.

The newly assembled team will, more generally, advise clients on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, and project related work across the oil and gas industries.

The firm, which also has corporate, finance, and disputes practices, among others, had some notable recent deals, including representing drug store giant CVS in its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna Inc., and advising pharmaceutical giant Novartis on a proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of a specialized pharmaceutical company.

In the energy arena, the firm represented the U.S. Department of Transportation in extending a $416 million secured loan for an infrastructure project in Colorado.

Even as it is adding lawyers in the U.S., the firm has not ruled out expansion overseas and is considering a new office in Korea later this year, Beveridge said. That would be in addition to the firm’s existing offices in China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The firm has 21 offices worldwide.

Beveridge, who has been a firm partner since 1995 and practiced as a capital markets lawyer, has had various senior leadership roles at the firm in prior years.