On March 16, the Howrey name on the door of the firm’s Houston office will change to Winston & Strawn. The affiliation change comes in the wake of Washington, D.C.-based Howrey’s announcement on March 9 that the firm’s partners voted to dissolve the partnership, effective March 16, and wind down its affairs. Stephen Cagle (pictured), managing partner of the Howrey Houston office, says Winston & Strawn, which had been in merger negotiations with Howrey in recent weeks, extended offers to all of the lawyers in the firm’s Houston office. He expects most to join Winston & Strawn but notes that two partners joined Novak Druce + Quigg’s Houston office on March 8: Henry “Hank” A. Petri and Janelle D. Waack. Petri and Waack did not immediately return one telephone call each seeking comment. Cagle says about 45 lawyers, including 16 partners, will join Winston & Strawn on March 16. Cagle says Howrey lawyers from other offices also will join Winston & Strawn, but he declines to speculate on the number of lawyers that will make the same decision as his office’s group. The Houston office does intellectual property litigation and civil litigation, he says. He says Winston & Strawn is a good fit for the Houston contingent because of cross-selling opportunities for the IP practice in industries such as pharmaceuticals and financial institutions. “It’s a fine, fine firm and a good expansion of practice areas for us. We give them some IP and a location in Houston, access to some energy clients, and they give us access to some clients we haven’t been able to service in the past,” Cagle says. Darryl Van Duch, a senior communications manager at Winston & Strawn, did not immediately return a telephone message. Cagle declines to discuss why Howrey is shutting its doors. “I wish I could give you a simple answer,” he says. “At the end of the day, the lack of profitability of the firm last year, that was the core reason, but then when you back off of what caused us to not have the profitability that we were after last year, that’s where you sort of run down the rabbit trails.” Cagle says most of the lawyers in the Houston office have practiced together for many years dating back to Arnold, White & Durkee, and they wanted to stay together. In 2000, Houston's Arnold, White & Durkee merged with Howrey & Simon of Washington, D.C., and the firm took the name Howrey in 2005.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys