Kirkland & Ellis has struck at a large Texas firm again. Last summer, the Chicago-founded law firm made big news when it hired long-time and high-profile Baker Botts tax law partner Richard Husseini to join its Houston practice.
Now, Kirkland has lured away Vinson & Elkins tax law partner David Cole, The Texas Lawbook has learned.
Multiple sources say that Cole, a nationally recognized expert on tax controversies and tax law litigation, is expected to join Kirkland in October.
During their tenures at Baker Botts and V&E, Husseini and Cole were viewed as fierce competitors for the two largest Texas-based corporate law firms. Both lawyers have deep ties to leaders in the oil patch.
Cole, a 2002 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, was part of the V&E team that represented Energy Transfer in a huge tax controversy at the heart of the midstream company’s efforts to kill a $38 billion merger with The Williams Companies last year.
On the transactional side, Cole advised Viking Global Investors as a lead investor in the 2021 $15 billion business combination of Ginkgo Bioworks and Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. He also represented Seadrill Partners in its $221 million initial public offering of common units. And this past April, he advised LSB Industries in its agreement with Lapis Energy for the development of a project to capture and permanently sequester CO2 from ammonia production at LSB’s El Dorado, Arkansas facility.
Kirkland and V&E are the two largest revenue-generating corporate law firms operating in Texas, according to the 2022 Texas Lawbook 50 scorecard.
V&E’s lawyers in Texas generated $601.3 million in 2021. The Texas lawyers for Kirkland reported $725 million last year, according to Lawbook 50 data.
Kirkland’s efforts to beef up its energy practice has not been limited to its Texas offices. Earlier this month, the firm hired Sara Pickersgill, who was the co-head of Allen & Overy’s global energy infrastructure practice in London. And last week, Kirkland announced that it has hired Clifford Chance energy and infrastructure partner James Boswell, who also is based in London.
The expectation by Kirkland leaders is that the two new London partners will do a considerable amount of work for energy clients in the U.S.
Of course, Kirkland is not the only firm in Texas adding energy expertise. Bracewell, Hunton Andrews Kurth, Porter Hedges, Pillsbury, Eversheds Sutherland and White & Case have announced new energy partner additions during the past few weeks.