Vinson & Elkins corporate group doubles in Houston

Texas firm Vinson & Elkins is lifting a massive 13-partner corporate securities practice from local rival Andrews & Kurth.

The team of 27 lawyers will almost double the firm’s Houston corporate group and bolster the capability in Washington DC and New York.

Six corporate partners are joining in Houston, led by Bill Finnegan, along with tax partner Barry Miller, employment partner Michael Stuart and business and international partner Jay Kelley.

In Washington, the firm gains corporate partner Catherine Gallagher, and in New York business and international finance partners Allan Reiss, Mike Rosenwasser and Michael Swidler.

The team brings with it an underwriter client base including New York’s top investment banks – Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, PaineWebber, Salomon Smith Barney, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston and DLJ.

On the issuer side, Finnegan will not name any clients other than International Paper. He says: “Vinson & Elkins has a stronger issuer base and clients than we do, we are much stronger on the underwriter base. Now we hope that we can become the first choice for underwriters and issuers in the south west when they look for a corporate securities practice.”

Andrews & Kurth is a 250-lawyer transactional firm, and is the favoured law firm of former US president George Bush.

Vinson & Elkins corporate partner and member of the management committee Mark Kelly says: “This just adds to our ability to service our clients and frees some of us up to continue to pursue business. We were seeing a ton of work and we had little capacity to get it all done.”

He says the addition of Gallagher in Washington is particularly important, as that was where the corporate department lacked a real presence.