A year after joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, former Texas solicitor general Kyle Hawkins jumped today to become a partner at the litigation boutique Lehotsky Keller.
Hawkins will chair the firm’s Texas appellate practice in Austin. The firm’s co-founder, Scott Keller, was Texas SG from 2015 to 2018. Hawkins succeeded him, serving from 2018 to 2021, when he moved to Gibson Dunn.
Hawkins argued four Supreme Court cases during his time as Texas solicitor general – twice remotely from Texas during the pandemic — but did not argue before the high court while at Gibson Dunn. Hawkins has argued 17 times before the Fifth Circuit and six times in the Texas Supreme Court, and handles legal matters across the state.
Part of Hawkins’ tenure as Texas SG was during the turmoil of the 2020 presidential election. When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a highly controversial petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming irregularities in the election, Hawkins’ name was conspicuously absent on the brief. After he left the SG’s office, I asked Hawkins why he did not use his name. He declined to answer then, and he did again in an interview Sunday.
When he went to Gibson Dunn in April last year, Hawkins told Texas Lawbook, “I love Gibson Dunn, and it’s the only law firm with whom I had serious discussions over the past few months.”
Asked why he left Gibson Dunn, Hawkins said on Sunday, “After just watching what this boutique has accomplished over the past year, I just thought it was a chance that I couldn’t pass up. I’ve been so impressed with how they’ve grown their boutique, how they’ve grown their practice.”
Hawkins joined Gibson Dunn’s Washington, D.C. office, from 2011 to 2013, and was with the firm again from 2014 to 2017. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. from 2013 to 2014 and for Judge Edith H. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 2010 to 2011.
Allyson Ho, Gibson Dunn’s co-chair of its nationwide appellate and constitutional law practice, said Hawkins “is a wonderful lawyer and colleague. We wish him all the best and look forward to working with him in the future.”
Hawkins graduated summa cum laude in 2009 from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2002.
In addition to Hawkins, Lehotsky Keller has grown in the last year with 11 partners, associates and counsel, several of whom were recruited from Baker Botts or Gibson Dunn, and many with experience in Texas courts and cases as well as federal courts.
Asked why talent has moved toward Lehotsky Keller, Keller said, “I think the short version is being at a boutique has some significant advantages, the practice, knowing your colleagues incredibly well, being nimble.” He added, “I think that the flexibility and the entrepreneurial nature of a boutique, I think, draws a lot of interest, particularly from lawyers who want to craft their practice in a way that is going to be conducive to the modern economy and modern litigation trends.”
Lehotsky and Keller indicated that Hawkins’s arrival at the firm, founded in February 2021, signals the firm’s focus on Texas state courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
“You take an exceptional talent like Kyle, who has an immense amount of experience that is Texas-focused, and, of course, we want to build on that,” Keller said Sunday. “But at the same time, Kyle’s a nationally-prominent lawyer, like many of the lawyers at the firm, and the span of the cases and clients that we have at our firm is national. We’re going to continue to do both.”
Lehotsky added, “With Kyle joining our firm, lawyers at Lehotsky Keller have argued a combined 16 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, 22 in the Texas Supreme Court, and 50 in the Fifth Circuit.”
“I am thrilled to join the Lehotsky Keller team,” Hawkins said, “and I look forward to working with my new partners to expand our services in Texas and around the country. After a banner inaugural year, Lehotsky Keller has quickly established itself as a top national boutique with unparalleled client service.”