The eight lawyers at Houston litigation boutique Powers & Frost are now working at Wilson Elser in Houston.
Sharla Frost (pictured), a founding partner of Powers & Frost who is the new regional managing partner of Wilson Elser’s 20-lawyer Houston office, says the opportunity to join the 800-lawyer Wilson Elser on Jan. 1 was simply too good to pass up.
“We had been on our own for a long time and survived the worst of tort reform. The more we investigated and pondered it, it seemed like the right thing to do,” she says.
Because of Powers & Frost’s small size, Frost says the lawyers at the 18-year-old firm were missing out on some big litigation. Recently, she says, did didn’t get hired for a couple of “very significant assignments” -- one in New York City and one in Los Angeles -- because the firm didn’t have offices in one of those cities. That won’t be a problem at Wilson Elser, she says, because the firm has offices in both cities among its 25 offices.
“A lot of corporate clients were just hesitant to send significant work to a firm our size. Some were very straightforward about it. We did a lot of soul searching and due diligence and concluded it was time to do something different,” Frost says.
The move has been a long time in the works. In February 2012, Frost says, she met with E. Stratton Horres Jr (pictured), the regional managing partner at the firm’s 30-lawyer Dallas office, for a 45-minute coffee before she rushed out of town for a trial. “We just really hit it off…His was the first message on my desk when I got back from trial. We just started talking from there,” Frost says.
Frost says the negotiations progressed slowly, in part, due to some conflicts that needed to be resolved. Also, she says, it made sense to make the move at year end.
Horres, also Wilson Elser’s lateral hiring partner, says it was clear to him from the start after his first meeting with Frost that the Powers & Frost lawyers would be a good fit for his firm, which is 85 percent litigation. “They do a lot of what we already do nationally,” he says, noting the lawyers’ toxic tort and products liability defense work.
Horres says the firm wanted to expand its Houston office because of litigation opportunities in Texas. The firm moved into Dallas in 1992 and Houston in 1997.
In addition to Frost, others who joined Wilson Elser in Houston from Powers & Frost are of counsel James Powers, Gwendolyn Frost, Shawn Golden, Clive Markland and Laura Rahman and associates Chandria Jackson and Michelle Scheiffele.
Frost says clients the group brought with them to Wilson Elser include Georgia Pacific LLC of Atlanta; Pfizer Inc. of New York, and Union Carbide Corp. of Houston.
Horres notes that Wilson Elser is looking to expand elsewhere in Texas, and also opened an office in Milwaukee, Wisc., on Jan. 1.
--By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys