A group of 14 public finance/tax/municipal securities partners plans to leave Vinson & Elkins over the next few weeks to join Bracewell & Giuliani as partners in January. Additionally, 13 to 16 associates and counsel who work with the partners also will make the move, says Mark Evans, managing partner of Houston-based Bracewell. Bracewell announced today that partners Ben A. Brooks III (pictured), W. Glenn Opel and Barron Wallace will lead its public finance practice, which is based in Texas and Washington, D.C. Evans says Bracewell long has sought to expand its finance capabilities with a larger public finance practice, and the V&E group is a “great addition” to the firm. Evans says the firm represents a large number of school districts and other public entities, and the public finance practice supports that client roster. The 14 partners making the move are: Charles Almond, Cristy Edwards, Jonathan Kelly Frels, Steven Gerdes, R. Todd Greenwalt and Wallace in Houston; Elizabeth Rippy Bower, Opel and Victoria Ozimek in Austin; Brooks, Robert Collins III, Jonathan Leatherberry and George Rodriguez in Dallas; and Paul Maco in Washington, D.C. Opel will split his time between Austin and San Antonio. Brooks says the group is excited about the move to Bracewell, because the firm will provide opportunities to expand the practice. “Long term, we just felt like there might be a better alignment at a firm that has a longstanding history of representing governmental entities both in Texas and Washington and where public finance could grow without some of the conflict issues that we’ve had over the last few years,” Brooks says. He says the conflicts primarily stem from V&E’s strong condemnation practice; V&E lawyers represent private landowners in condemnation disputes with government entities such as the Texas Department of Transportation, which is also a source of public finance work, he says. Also, Brooks says, Bracewell has a San Antonio office, which is a potentially lucrative market in the public finance area. Brooks and Joe Dilg, managing partner of Houston-based V&E, say the group’s departure is amicable. Dilg says Bracewell is a better long-term fit for the public finance group, because V&E’s strategic plan calls for devoting resources to growth in other areas, such as energy, finance and litigation. “It’s a great group, and something I think will fit very well with Bracewell,” he says.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys