Merger-bound Thompson & Knight sees another exit as Dallas chief jumps to Sidley

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Foster Holt

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(Reuters) - Thompson & Knight is losing the leader of its largest office, energy transactions lawyer Holt Foster in Dallas, to Sidley Austin, the latest in a string of senior departures since it announced plans to merge with Holland & Knight.

Foster will be a partner in Sidley's global energy and infrastructure group and a co-leader of its energy practice, the 2,000-lawyer firm said in a statement on Monday.

Chicago-based Sidley lists nearly 150 lawyers in its energy practice, and more than 90 lawyers in Dallas.

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Yvette Ostolaza, managing partner of Sidley's Dallas office and chair-elect of the firm's management committee, said Sidley and Foster already shared clients and his "reputation among the premier private equity funds and the Dallas area business community made him attractive" as a lateral hire.

Foster was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

He's at least the fifth partner to leave Thompson & Knight since the Dallas-based firm said in April that it was in talks to merge with Miami-based Holland & Knight this summer.

Last week, the head of Thompson & Knight's Fort Worth office Cole Bredthauer and another corporate transactions partner, Jesse Betts in Dallas, moved to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. The week before that Shad Sumrow, a 23-year veteran of Thompson & Knight who led its firmwide finance group, joined Baker Botts.

On Monday, Craig Carpenter, a Dallas technology lawyer who Thompson & Knight promoted to partner this year, announced a move to BakerHostetler.

None of those partners have cited Thompson & Knight's merger talks as a reason for their departure.

Under the merger deal, 1,400-lawyer Holland & Knight would keep its name and add Thompson & Knight's approximately 275 lawyers to its ranks, bolstering its offices in Texas.

The coronavirus pandemic's blow to the U.S. economy hit Thompson & Knight especially hard. Its energy clients struggled as fewer people traveled and used fuel. The firm sought a $10 million federal aid loan and its revenue dropped year-over-year in 2020, according to data from the American Lawyer.

The firm's managing partner Mark Sloan thanked Foster and Carpenter for their contributions and wished them well in a statement on Monday.

Read More:

Two more corporate partners exit Thompson & Knight before merger

Thompson & Knight finance leader jumps to Baker Botts ahead of merger

Holland & Knight and Thompson & Knight in merger talks

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