Simpson Thacher & Bartlett will open an office in Houston in June or July, staffed by attorneys including Robert R. Rabalais, who will leave Vinson & Elkins to join the New York City-based firm. Rabalais, a partner in V&E in Houston, says he expects to leave V&E later this month but declines further comment on his move. In a press release, Simpson Thacher says Rabalais will join as a partner in the banking and credit practice group. Energy work is fueling Simpson Thacher’s entree into Houston. “The time was right, given our increased client activity in that market, as well as our bullish prospects,” says David Lieberman, a Simpson Thacher partner in New York City who heads the firm’s energy and infrastructure practice group. “A number of our most significant clients have a presence on the ground in Houston,” he says. The firm has done work in Houston for financial institution and private equity clients including JPMorgan Chase, The Blackstone Group, GSO Capital Partners, First Reserve Corp. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., he says. The Houston office will open with eight to 10 lawyers; Lieberman says some will be lateral hires, such as Rabalais, and others will transfer from within the firm. He says he will head the Houston office from Houston and New York City. Additionally, partners William Curbow, Wilson Neely, Gary Sellers and Andrew Smith will split time between NYC and Houston. In addition to NYC, Simpson Thacher has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.
Joe Dilg, managing partner of Houston-based V&E, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys