Network Firm News

Monday, April 08, 2013

The National Law Journal -- Andrew Ramonas -- April 8, 2013
Traditionally litigation oriented, Beirne, Maynard & Parsons is grabbing more energy business by diversifying its practice areas.

With its acquisition of a 19-lawyer law firm in January, Houston-based Beirne, Maynard & Parsons gave its clients services beyond litigation and expanded its reach outside of Texas.

Now, it's go time.

The merger with Lemle & Kelleher was only the beginning for the 73-lawyer firm, said Beirne Maynard chairman Martin Beirne. Mississippi and Alabama are next, he said.

"It's a natural for us," Beirne said of his firm, which counts several oil and gas companies among its clients. Founded in 1987 with an emphasis on trial law, Beirne Maynard became the largest litigation specialty firm in Texas 10 years later with the addition of Bell & Murphy, another Houston litigation boutique. Along the way, the firm added outposts in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio before its combination with Lemle & Kelleher brought its first offices outside of Texas. Beirne Maynard was able to bolster its transactional abilities with the commercial transactions, securities and white-collar defense practices from Lemle & Kelleher, too.

For two decades, Beirne Maynard has provided clients with alternative fee arrangements, including flat monthly billing, capped fees and volume-based discounts on hourly rates. "It makes it more predictable and sustainable for clients," Beirne Maynard managing partner Brit Brown said.

With an eye to the wishes of those clients, the firm hopes to secure new talent through lateral hires rather than from law schools, Beirne said. Of Beirne Maynard's 73 attorneys, 42 are partners, seven are of counsel, 21 are associates, two are special counsel and one is a foreign lawyer admitted to the bar in Mexico. "They don't mind a few first-year lawyers," he said. "But they prefer lawyers with experience."

Beirne Maynard over the years has tried more than 1,320 cases, including disputes with high-profile clients during 2012. In one case, the firm represented ATP Oil & Gas Corp. in a suit against the U.S. Interior Department over the Obama administration's drilling moratorium following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brown and Beirne Maynard partner Benjamin Escobar Jr. represented ATP arguing that the U.S. government couldn't ban drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet after the court had previously ordered an end to drilling restrictions. The firm represented ATP on the appeal, too.

John Tschirhart, ATP's general counsel from 1997 to 2012, said Beirne Maynard provided "very responsive and good service" to the company. He said the firm made it possible for ATP to be one of the first oil and gas producers to resume work in the Gulf of Mexico following the oil spill. "Without Beirne Maynard and their handling of the case, it could have been a whole different story," Tschirhart said.

Beirne Maynard also served as counsel for Ford Motor Co. and co-counsel for U-Haul Co. of Texas Inc. in a wrongful-death case involving allegations concerning parking-brake and warnings defects and claiming $1 million to $2 million in damages. For Ford and U-Haul, the firm's representation, led by partner Danya Blair, brought a complete defense jury verdict in February 2012 in Harris County, Texas, Civil Court for the rental company in Moore v. Ford Motor Co. after the plaintiffs dropped their claims against the automobile manufacturer. Blair said the plaintiffs' move was an apparent effort to catch her and the other lawyers for the defendants off guard. But it failed.

And in a closely watched case last year, the firm represented Texas Governor Rick Perry in his bid to win a place on Virginia's Republican presidential primary ballot. In Perry v. Judd, the legal team included Beirne Maynard partner Joseph Nixon and of counsel Trey Trainor, as well as Beirne. Perry's lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Virginia's residency requirement for individuals who gather the requisite signatures for candidates seeking election. The lawsuit ultimately was unable to force the governor onto the ballot, because Perry filed it too late. But the firm did score points with U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. in Richmond, Va. He essentially agreed with Beirne Maynard lawyers, ruling that the ballot requirement likely was unconstitutional.

"It was a very interesting case," Beirne said.

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