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February 23, 2010 3:57 PM

Latham Raids Vinson & Elkins for Four Partners

Posted by Nate Raymond

Four partners at Vinson & Elkins have withdrawn from the partnership to join Latham & Watkins in its move to bulk up a new Houston office, sources say.

Finnegan The lawyers--William Finnegan IV (pictured at right), Brett Braden, Charles Carpenter, and Charles Timothy Fenn--are expected to join Latham sometime in March or early April, according to two people with knowledge of the move. The partners informed V&E's leadership of their plans in January, one source says.

Finnegan, Braden, and Fenn will be based in Latham's Houston office, while Carpenter will be based in New York.

Joseph Dilg, the managing partner of Vinson & Elkins, declined to comment on the departures. A spokesperson at Latham did not have an immediate comment on the expected moves.

Finnegan, who did not respond to a call or e-mail seeking comment, had been the leader of Vinson's capital markets practice. (Finnegan no longer holds that title, according to the firm's Web site). He joined Vinson in 2000 from Andrews Kurth along with a group of 13 corporate partners.

The lateral hires from Vinson would follow the opening of Latham's Houston office last month with hires from Baker Botts and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Michael Darden, previously firmwide chair of the global oil and gas practice at Baker Botts, joined Latham earlier this month, shortly after another Baker partner, Sean Wheeler, also joined the Los Angeles-based firm. The Akin Gump lawyers recruited for the office include Michael Dillard, the former head of Akin Gump's energy and global transactions practice, and J. Michael Chambers.

Latham has said it hopes to use the Houston office to push further into the energy sector.

Many of the partners in the Vinson & Elkins group specialize in representing publicly traded partnerships, also called master limited partnerships. Clients of Latham's Houston office include "upstream and midstream master limited partnerships," according to the firm's Web site. (Actual client names are not disclosed.)

News of the expected moves comes as Vinson & Elkins on Monday disclosed that its profits per partner fell 3 percent in 2009 to $1.27 million. Last week, Latham reported that profits per partner climbed 5 percent in 2009 to $1.9 million.

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