Houston's Chamberlain Hrdlicka grows again, nearing $100 mln milestone

A man runs at a park overlooking the Houston skyline. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare
  • Firm's latest hire is former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, a Republican candidate for Texas AG
  • Chairman emeritus says Houston firm on course to surpass 2020 revenue peak

(Reuters) - Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry is continuing to grow after generating record revenue in 2020, with a high-profile new addition to its partnership and other strategic hires.

This week the Houston-based firm brought on Eva Guzman, a justice on the Texas Supreme Court until June, as a shareholder. Guzman announced in June that she's running as a Republican to replace Ken Paxton as Texas attorney general.

“We competed with a bunch of firms to get her, so we're very pleased she joined us,” said Wayne Risoli, the firm’s chair emeritus.

Guzman is the latest in a string of new additions for the 150-lawyer firm, which also has offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Antonio. That includes five new Houston associate and counsel hires last week, including lawyers from Porter Hedges, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and KPMG.

The firm has also been growing in Atlanta, where it named real estate chair Stephanie Friese Aron and Atlanta corporate and securities chair Scott Augustine co-managing shareholders in June. That office has also added five new associates, bringing the total up to about 50 lawyers. “We have two incredibly prolific lawyers over in Atlanta who need more associates," Risoli said.

Formed 56 years ago by a pair of Justice Department tax lawyers, the firm has expanded its practice base but maintains a core focus on tax issues. It has nearly tripled its revenue since 2004, with its international tax and tax controversy practices being its most profitable, according to Risoli.

Risoli said he initially reduced headcount when he became managing shareholder at the firm 17 years ago, and within a year revenue went from about $33 million to $40 million. After that, he hit the gas on growth, tapping lawyers who would stay at the firm long term. He was succeeded as managing shareholder in January 2020 by Larry Campagna.

In Houston, headcount has been growing at a rate of 5% per year, and in Atlanta the rate is 10%, Risoli said. Chamberlain Hrdlicka also added new practice areas as it grew last year, including bankruptcy, restructuring and creditor rights; data security and privacy; and a Paycheck Protection Program audit and investigations practice.

Though the firm itself received over $6 million in PPP loans last year, Risoli said generated its highest-ever revenue of about $96 million. Now it's on course to pass the $100 million mark this year, with year-to-date revenue up 14-17% compared with 2020, he said.

The firm said this week that Guzman, who had been a judge in Texas since 1999 and who will focus on litigation and appellate practice, will be based in the firm’s Houston and San Antonio offices.

Guzman raised $1 million in her first 10 days after announcing her AG bid, including from major Republican donors. Paxton, the Republican incumbent, recently received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who said Paxton is a “true Texan who will keep Texas safe.”

She was the first Latina elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 2009. Risoli said the firm would be fully supportive if Guzman's campaign succeeds.

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Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on midsize law firms. Reach her at Chinekwu.osakwe@thomsonreuters.com.