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April 6, 2011 3:11 PM

Lateral Losses Cause Austin Firm to Fold

Posted by Brian Baxter

Clark, Thomas & Winters, a onetime 200-lawyer firm based in Austin that once served as counsel to former president Lyndon Johnson, has closed shop after the departures of more than 50 lawyers over the past two months.

Texas Lawyer, a sibling publication, reports that Clark Thomas had 75 lawyers on January 1, but a series of lateral losses in subsequent months forced the closure of the firm late last week.

Meade Bauer, the firm's former president, told Texas Lawyer that he opened a solo practice on April 1 and that Clark Thomas effectively no longer exists because all of its lawyers have left for opportunities elsewhere.

On March 31 Gordon & Rees announced that it had opened an office in Austin after raiding Clark Thomas for 12 lawyers, most of them specialists in drug and medical device litigation, according to Texas Lawyer.

Clark Thomas lost more lawyers on March 14, when a group of 29 attorneys formed Austin shop Duggins Wren Mann & Romero. Texas Lawyer reports that the departing lawyers represented a selection of clients in the electric energy and gas utility industries.

In February, Clark Thomas lost ten lawyers to Bowman and Brooke, a Minneapolis-based litigation firm that opened in Austin on February 1. Those laterals brought with them product liability and commercial litigation expertise in the automotive, aviation, and utility industries.

Clark Thomas, which was founded in 1938, was considered Austin's oldest law firm. But the firm fell on hard times in recent years. (Texas Lawyer will have more on the breakup of Clark Thomas.)

In May, former Clark Thomas partner Walter Demond goes to trial on charges of theft and money laundering related to his representation of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, according to the Austin American-Statesmen. Demond once headed Clark Thomas's energy practice and was a top outside lawyer for Pedernales, a nonprofit rural electric utility cooperative founded in 1938.

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As Rome goes, so goes the "venerable" Clark, Thomas & Winters. Thanks for the mid-80's great memories. RIP.

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