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July 14, 2010 12:11 PM

Bracewell & Giuliani Sets Up Shop in Seattle

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Seattle

Citing ties to a longtime client in British Columbia and seeking a greater foothold for its energy practice in the Pacific Northwest, Bracewell & Giuliani has announced that it will open a new office in Seattle.

The Houston-based firm counts BC Hydro, a Vancouver, B.C.-based power company owned by the Canadian government, and its subsidiary, Powerex, among its biggest clients. Partner Paul Fox, who will leave the firm's Austin office to be managing partner in Seattle, has been the lead attorney for BC Hydro for more than 20 years. That relationship helped spur the firm's decision to expand in that region, according to Bracewell managing partner Mark Evans.

"We do a tremendous amount of litigation work for them and are doing more transactional work for them," Evans says. "And, keenly, just having a presence closer to them was an important reason to open the office."

The firm also does IP litigation work for companies in the region, including Starbucks and T-Mobile, Evans says. 

Another factor drawing Bracewell to the Seattle area is a growing renewable energy market there, which the firm hopes to exploit with a combination of in-house attorneys and lateral hires. The firm announced that David Domansky will join the new office as a partner, focusing on energy project development and finance, with an eye toward renewable energy. "We think energy is something--especially on the renewable side--that's really important in the Pacific Northwest, and we think we'll be able to give a bigger platform to some of the people we're going to be talking to," Evans says.

Domansky was most recently the head of the energy practice at Davis Wright Tremaine. When Bracewell researched names of attorneys in that field, Domansky's kept coming up, and Evans expects that he will likely bring in some clients to add to the firm's roster in the Seattle area.

The firm will also welcome Christopher Schenk, formerly of Riddell Williams P.S., as a litigation associate, specializing in the areas of software and semiconductor technology. Technology and energy, and the combination of the two, are all growing markets in the region, according to Melissa Hoff, a consultant for Zeughauser Group specializing in law firm growth strategies. 

"I think that there's been some growth in terms of the clean tech, or the green types of companies," especially in the Northwest, says Hoff.

Domansky and Schenk will be joined in the Seattle office by Fox, who is cohead of the firm's energy regulatory practice, as well as tax partner Lance Behnke and associate Valyncia Simmons. When the office opens in early August, Evans says, it will house about eight lawyers, but he sees that number growing to 15 by the end of the year.

The new office will start out as "a really limited shot for us, with the energy derivatives piece and the IP litigation piece," Evans concedes. "We're not adverse to expanding it further than that, but that's really where we saw the demand, and where we thought we could fit in nicely with the geography."


Photo: iStockphoto

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