This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Michelle Hoogendam Cash The Greater Houston metropolitan area, with a population of 4.7 million people, is the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is home to Fortune 500 companies (ranked 4th nationally in 2002 with 22 Fortune 500 headquarters), respected universities, major league sports teams, and the largest medical center in the world. As the energy capital of the United States, Houston’s economy traditionally has been energy-based. Houston, however, has diversified its industry over the last 20 years and the non-energy companies continue to increase and grow. Culturally, Houston is home to resident theatre, opera, symphony, and ballet, with more than 200 institutions devoted to the performing and visual arts. It enjoys a relatively low cost of living and is a city where individual initiative is rewarded. According to Rice University’s annual Houston Area Survey, most Houstonians agree that, “if you work hard in this city, eventually you will succeed.” This entrepreneurial spirit extends across all industries, including the law. Energy Houston is the world capital of the oil and gas industry with over 5000 energy firms doing business in the region. Energy includes not only the exploration and development of energy resources, but also the related industries of oilfield services, drilling platforms, pipelines, marketing/trading, distribution, refineries, processing byproducts, and all of the various services (including legal) needed to support this vast industry. One need only read the front page of the newspaper to understand the critical importance of energy in the way global politics and economies are being reshaped – practically on a daily basis. Examples of Houston companies supporting this enormous industry include ConocoPhillips, Marathon, Baker Hughes, Anadarko, Burlington Resources, Apache, Dynegy, Reliant, El Paso, Lyondell, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Shell, ChevronTexaco, and many others. It has been estimated that in the 1980s, 65% of all office space in Houston was, in one way or another, related to the oil and gas or utilities industry. (Houston has relatively little involvement in the fields of alternative energy such as wind, solar, hydro, or nuclear energy). With the diversification of Houston’s economy, that number has dropped. In the view of one savvy observer, Bill Boyar of the Houston law firm Boyar & Miller, “that percentage is in the 30s” today. Real Estate Texas is a big state and real estate always has played a prominent role in its fortune. (Texans love their land.) In comparison to other major industrial states, particularly New York and California, real estate in Texas remains relatively affordable. Thus, it is no surprise that major commercial real estate developers and brokers are located in
Approximately 49. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne commerce. Software companies such as BMC Software and Landmark Graphics make their home in Houston. Anderson than at any other institution in the country. the Houston Astros / MLB. Technology Services & Equipment The Houston region is becoming a high technology and manufacturing center. Fortunately. and Seattle). and manages the space shuttle program. Similarly. Houston also is home to the University of Houston. Rice University. Industry Week ranked Houston as one of 12 world-class communities for manufacturing. Aerospace Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) which controls manned space flights. Houston is the corporate headquarters for Sysco Corporation and the Landry's restaurant empire. selects and trains astronauts. which collectively employ thousands of workers. and St.D. state-of-the art facility.S. Currently. the number of employees at Compaq’s former campus remains relatively constant as HP continues to move employees there. comprise America’s elite health care centers.the Houston Rockets / NBA. More new anti-cancer drugs are evaluated at M. Texas Children’s Hospital. Approximately 18. and assembly of the International Space Station. and the Houston Texans / NFL -. Houston was not so tech-dependent that it suffered the collapse of the other tech-centric markets like Silicon Valley. manages the design. new sub-industries in medical devices and bioscience have developed in Houston. and aerospace industries. making the city one of the worldwide centers for bioscience (along with San Diego. which is associated with the University of Texas. and Sueba USA. Memorial Hermann. the hospitality industry is a significant contributor. McCord Development. it is estimated that Houstonians eat at restaurants more frequently than residents of any other major U. Gerald Hines. city. Houston is home to more than 8. Anderson Cancer Center. and related enterprises. Additionally. oil and gas. Houston is home to three professional sports franchises . To the extent that Houston does have an active software development market. such efforts tend to be directed towards the energy. These centers give rise to a proliferation of research start-up companies which support the medical industry and contribute to Houston’s greater economy. with 76 countries represented. research facilities. Luke’s Hospital.000 contract and civil service personnel support the JSC. Minneapolis. Austin. second in total tonnage. Though Hewlett Packard recently acquired Compaq Computer (which was headquartered in Houston). along with Massachusetts General. and Johns Hopkins.000 restaurants giving it more restaurants per capita than any other major city in the United States. In 2001. International Houston has the nation's third largest consular corps. the Mayo Clinic. which generates technical research and development opportunities. Thomas College.000 people work at/near the TMC. medical offices. Silicon Valley. Life Sciences / Health Care Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center which is a vast complex of over 100 buildings containing hospitals. Houston Baptist University.Houston including Camden Property. Boston.D. Although no one industry dominates. and the M. and Seattle. Hospitals include The Methodist Hospital. In fact. The Port of Houston is a 25mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. Cushman & Wakefield.D. and 2 . medical education campuses. Services The services industry accounts for over 20% of Houston's gross area product. Crescent Real Estate. St. Anderson. Texas Southern University.each of which plays in a newly constructed. M. development. with approximately 500 clinical trials underway.
and moving from one firm to another was akin to exchanging apples for apples. Thus. but also signaled to other out-of-state firms that the energy-driven Houston market was fair game. than they do about where to find the best barbeque in Dallas. mergers and acquisitions. the dynamic Houston market does not have a constant. and Vinson & Elkins all began to open NYC and international offices. from 1980-2000. among others. including a focus towards New York. Weil. The Law Firms Law firms in Houston. Houston firms had to embrace a national (and international) strategy. insurance. New York. Susman Godfrey. opened Houston offices. by virtue of its dominating industry position.sixth in the world. That said. Mexico. broke ranks to open the commercial litigation and trial boutique. Houston. have undergone a dramatic transformation in the last quarter century. Brown. Susman set the stage in Houston (and Texas) for the advent of other big-firm spin-offs including: Gibbs & Bruns. recruit head-to-head (and win). In 1985. Baker McKenzie. IP prosecution. And it wasn’t just any out-of-state law firm. predictable stream of “hot” or “cold” practices. like those elsewhere. and the sixth largest in the world. the markets tend to be cyclical. Rather. and oil and gas. Smyser. compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley). the Gulf States. These three firms enjoyed historical ties to industry leaders in all Texas markets. the current law firm scene in Houston is diverse and dynamic. the Houston legal landscape was dominated by its three largest firms: Baker & Botts. firms such as Baker Hostetler. Rowe & Maw. Areas that remain steady include: appellate. Subsequently. and the vast expanses of Russia and the former Soviet Republics. Skadden Arps. Another industry trend took place in the early 1980s: the maverick spin-off. with local. and Vinson & Elkins. and had much higher profitability than any firm the locals had ever seen. real estate. Gotshal & Manges. Mayer. and the entry into Texas of the national banking houses. Thus. The Houston airport system is the fourth largest in the United States. In the 1960s-70s. public 3 . with every practice area enjoying both ups and downs. divestitures (distressed assets). like any city and region in the country. Kaplan & Veselka. toxic tort. Baker & Botts. Redden & Secrest. litigation (including commercial. life within a major Houston law firm was as good as it could get. with a particular reliance upon the work generated from the oil and gas and banking industries. Gotshal’s arrival not only had an impact in Houston. public finance. forced a shift in the strategy of Houston law firms. This fact. employment. Beck. and white collar). In 1980. King & Spalding. From a partner’s perspective. Susman must receive credit for showing the Houston legal community that you did not have to be part of a major law firm to do top-caliber work. the Houston legal community saw the arrival of an out-of-state law firm. legal work in Houston was increasingly emanating from. corporate legal work increasingly was coming from the capital markets. Dewey Ballantine. Fulbright & Jaworski. It was Weil. New York firms were moving to Texas. and make money on par with lawyers at the major firms (in fact. Other larger Houston firms. To maintain profitability and preserve their energy client relationships. claims an enormous international role. Pillsbury Winthrop. and. This arrangement seemed to work pretty well until the 1980s. regional. As a result. Steve Susman. Historically. and international firms all playing significant roles. Littler Mendelson. as distasteful as it might have been (and continues to be) for some Texans. including those now known as Bracewell & Patterson and Andrews & Kurth followed suit. Venezuela. Jones Day. with lawyers and business people knowing more about the rituals of the North Sea. While Houston firms were moving to New York (and beyond). intellectual property. the following areas are currently active: bankruptcy. then a partner at Fulbright. the major Houston law firms had been successful in retaining their best partners. he made much more). or tied to. when a seismic eruption took place in the form of a financial services sector consolidation. biotech. ERISA. Furthermore. billed its clients at higher rates. a New York firm that paid its associates more. Fulbright & Jaworski. securities. As for specific practice areas. Boyar & Miller and Yetter & Warden. Europe and Latin America are Houston’s largest seaborne trading partners.
service. then Houston is your paradise. work in Latin America. you’ll be just like everybody else. Houston is hot. several major Houston energy companies have cut back on their in-house legal staff and are not hiring attorneys at this time. Another appealing aspect about Houston is its entrepreneurial. non-growth. tax. your notion of a perfect day is 98 degrees. may hire attorneys directly from law school. and they want to be involved in the legal consultative process at an earlier stage. Whereas cities like San Francisco and Boston grapple with the issues of growth vs. indeed. This single fact. Living and Working In Houston It is said that Houston is the largest city in America where most of the people are from somewhere else. in fact. It is not a place for the climatically faint of heart. 4 . Although most companies prefer that their in-house staff have prior experience with a law firm or in-house legal department. you must quickly learn to embrace the marvels and benefits of air conditioning. this overview is merely a brief snapshot of today’s market. or you risk mid-summer melt-down. To handle this rising tide. many of the larger companies have sizeable legal departments. Houston has undertaken a massive infrastructure rehabilitation project to improve its city streets and highways. Houston is a dynamic city and the business and legal markets continue to evolve over time. the battle in Houston is how to deal with the inevitable growth. That war is over (if. and 90% humidity. more and more lawyers are expressing an interest in working in a corporate law department. In-House Practice No area of practice has attracted more attention in the last decade than “going in-house. please feel free to give us a call. venture capital. Houston doesn’t trouble itself with such ideological battles. Very hot. Whether. As a Houstonian. pro-business attitude. some of which have more attorneys than many area law firms. IPOs. Many of these lawyers move. or want to move. sunshine. So. makes Houston uniquely attractive to people who are geographically open and who wish to live and work in a community where “fifth generation family connections” are not necessary for success. Growth – all and any – is encouraged. That said. it was ever fought). or the highly touted “equity play” of the dot. and traditional labor (union) work. there is no glass ceiling in Houston for outsiders. probate. and family law. you can make it in Houston. if true. but the result is by no means clear.com era gold rush. these opportunities exist in-house can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. as 2 million more residents are expected to swell the city’s population to over 6 million by 2006. Houston is the only major city in the country without zoning laws. Questions? Of course. such as ExxonMobil. If. Thus. If you are bright and hardworking. what are the negatives about living and working in Houston? The heat. In Houston. they want to understand a single company’s business and strategy more in-depth. Areas that are not as active include: telecommunications. That said.” In other words. some companies. no problem.” Whether a result of the perceived “grind” of working at a law firm. The debate on that issue is well underway. due to the recent fallout in the energy industry. we would be glad to talk with you about working and living in Houston. everything can (and probably will) change tomorrow. project finance. on the other hand. Yet. To put this in practical terms. If you have specific questions about the Houston market (legal or otherwise). If you were not raised in Houston. because they wish to get “closer to the business. Houston needs to contend with some very serious issues involving mass transportation in a city that loves its cars and its (relatively) cheap fuel. technology.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.