Susman Godfrey’s newly elected co-managing partner, Vineet Bhatia, said Tuesday that the Houston-based litigation powerhouse had its “best year ever” in 2021 and that the law firm needs to hire more lawyers to keep up with client demand.
Susman Godfrey officials announced Tuesday that long-time managing partner Neal Manne is stepping down as co-leader of the law firm Jan. 15 after 11 years as head or co-head of the 150-lawyer practice.
Bhatia, a trial attorney in Susman’s Houston office who has tried more than 25 cases to a verdict, joined the firm in 1996 and will be co-managing partner with Los Angeles partner Kalpana Srinivasan.
The firm lost its founding partner in 2020 when Steve Susman died from injuries related to a bicycle accident.
Bhatia, who specializes in complex commercial litigation, has represented corporate giants such as Walmart, KBR, Genworth Financial and LyondellBasell. Last year, he successfully represented CenterPoint Energy in Winter Storm Uri related disputes with natural gas suppliers. He currently represents United Kingdom-based Flutter Entertainment, one of the owners of online sports-betting operator FanDuel, in a multibillion-dollar dispute with Fox Corporation.
Financially, “2021 was better than 2020,” Bhatia said.
“The firm had another record year and 2021 stands alone as the most profitable year in the firm’s history,” he said. “We have 150 lawyers and we could use more. We have a lot of work and we can definitely use more lawyers.”
Bhatia said he doesn’t think the firm will open new offices in the near future, but he said they plan to significantly increase the number of attorneys in their New York and Los Angeles offices.
A 1987 graduate of Rice University, Bhatia went to law school at Columbia University and then joined Wachtell Lipton, where he practiced for four years. He joined the firm 25 years ago and was promoted to partner in 1997. He has served on the firm’s executive committee for eight years.
“Neal built on the legacy of our firm’s namesakes – Steve Susman and Lee Godfrey – and the firm has thrived,” Bhatia said. “I will work with Kalpana to ensure that legacy continues.”
Manne, according to the law firm, is not leaving the firm nor retiring. He plans to remain an active partner. Under his management, Susman Godfrey more than doubled in size.
The Texas Lawbook reported in November that Live Nation has hired Manne and Susman Godfrey to represent the concert promoter in the litigation involving the Astroworld tragedy that occurred last year. Live Nation is a primary defendant in more than 150 cases.
“I felt comfortable stepping down as managing partner because the firm is flourishing,” Manne said in a written statement. “In Kalpana and Vineet, we have fabulous leaders who suit the times and will keep Susman Godfrey on a steady course. I look forward to continuing my active litigation practice at the firm for many years to come.”