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US firm Reed Smith has opened an office in Houston two years after turning its back on a potential merger with Texan firm Thompson & Knight.
Despite launching in the region last week the firm is still in the process of finding staff, with former San Francisco head David Thompson the only partner known to have relocated so far.
The energy partner, who is now described as an ‘integration partner’ on the firm’s website, will be responsible for integrating new staff as Reed Smith attempts to expand the base into a full-service office with up to 50 lawyers.
Known for being a premier energy hub, Houston has been on the firm’s agenda for some time. In the latter part of 2010 managing partner Greg Jordan confirmed Reed Smith was in “preliminary discussions” with Texas firm Thompson & Knight (4 October 2010).
However the plan was shelved months later, with the two firms releasing a joint statement saying that the talks had ended before the partnerships had been given a vote on the matter. At the time, Jordan commented that, “we can’t get all of the pieces in the right place now”.
While Jordan was unavailable for comment today (23 January), a spokesperson for the firm told The Lawyer that “given a lot of different factors” it made more sense for the firm to enter the region without a tie-up. However, a local pairing in future was not ruled out.
The spokesperson added that Reed Smith was opening in Houston because the region has a number of “major clients”. As the centre of the global oil and gas industry, the area has attracted Paul Hastings, Sidley Austin, and other firms including Allen & Overy and Latham & Watkins to the city.
At least one more office opening is predicted for Reed Smith this year, although the spokesman did not comment on further launches. In October 2012 the firm launched an office in Singaporewith the hire of two partners from Holman Fenwick Willan and a number of internal relocations from London. Singapore is now Reed Smith’s fourth office in Asia, after Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.