Legendary Dallas trial lawyer Mike McKool announced Thursday that he has left the 130-lawyer firm that he co-founded 32 years ago in order to take on an assignment that he sees as the final big case of his career.
McKool, who has tried more than 100 cases to juries resulting in verdicts exceeding $1 billion, told The Texas Lawbook that he has shed many tears making his announcement today.
Now 73, McKool said he is leaving McKool Smith to take on a case for a client that presents a conflict with other clients at the law firm.
“This is a matter of an extremely compelling legal issue and charge that I would jump at under any circumstances,” he said. “I had a great desire to meet the challenge.”
“I tried to do everything I could to take on this case and stay with the firm,” McKool said. “I can’t really talk about the matter at this point. I don’t want to prejudice the case by talking about it at this point, but keep checking back with me.”
“Given my age, I think this could be the last great case of my career,” he said.
McKool said he is leaving McKool Smith “on friendly terms” and that McKool Smith is in a strong position to keep thriving without him.
McKool Smith Managing Principal David Sochia said the firm wishes McKool the best on his new adventure and thanked the founding principal for “helping to build McKool Smith into the firm it is today.”
“Mike is a legend, a tremendous trial lawyer and we hate to see him go,” Sochia told The Lawbook. “He has an opportunity to take on a case that will be a capstone of his career. We tried six ways to Sunday for him to do this case and still be here.”
Sochia said McKool Smith had a great year in 2022 and “so, far, this year, we are ahead of plan.”
“This is a sad day for us on a personal level, but the firm is not going to miss a beat,” he said.
McKool Smith has offices in in Austin, Dallas, Marshall, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C.
In his interview with The Lawbook, McKool teared up when trying to describe his feelings.
“I’m very emotional right now,” he said. “I was 41 when we started this firm in 1991 with 11 lawyers. My inbox is filled with well wishes. I have so many great friends here.”
McKool, who had a bout with cancer years ago, said he is “healthy as a horse” and has lots of energy. He said he plans to open a new law office and hire associates and support staff in order to tackle the case. He said he is not taking any client matters with him.