The battle among Texas lawyers to do the mega mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures is fierce.
The usual names are at the top of the list: Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Sidley, Vinson & Elkins, Shearman & Sterling, Gibson Dunn and Baker Botts.
In 2021, lawyers in the Texas offices of 22 law firms represented various parties in 115 M&A deals that were valued at $1 billion or more, according to data from The Texas Lawbook’s Corporate Deal Tracker, which documents transactions handled by Texas lawyers.
The 115 billion-dollar-plus corporate transactions in 2021 was the most ever and nearly double the 64 such deals reported in 2020, according to CDT data.
In 2020, only three law firms had their Texas lawyers advise on 10 or more corporate transactions worth $1 billion or more. In 2021, seven different firms — Kirkland, Latham, Sidley, V&E, Shearman, Gibson Dunn and Baker Botts — fit that that description.
Legal industry insiders say the increased number of Texas lawyers working on 10- and 11-digit transactions demonstrates the maturity of the state’s legal market. They point out that many large corporations and private equity firms only a few years ago turned to New York or Chicago lawyers to lead their biggest deals.
There’s more. Texas lawyers led their firms’ representation of primary parties in those billion-dollar deals more frequently than ever before.
CDT data for 2021 shows that 18 law firms in Texas acted as lead advisors for the principals —buyers, sellers and targets — in those billion-dollar deals. Kirkland led that list with 17 transactions. Latham was second with 14, followed by Sidley and V&E.
The lead legal advisors for the principals are paid more because they are involved in all aspects of the transactions from start to finish; and often they have many more attorneys working on the deal. More lawyers multiplied by more hours equals more revenue.
That being said, the law firms representing third parties — investment banks, conflicts committees or specialty counsel on legal issues such as antitrust or cross-border dealmaking — bill tidy sums, as well.
Sidley lawyers in Texas were involved representing principals and secondary parties in 27 deals valued at $1 billion or more in 2021. Kirkland ranked second with 20 such transactions. Latham was third with 19. Gibson Dunn and V&E each worked on 14 billion-dollar-plus transactions.