Editor: The firm has added associates, members and senior counsel in Texas this year, adding talent and experience to this region, and the operation has moved into a new larger office space. What conditions in the region spurred the growth of the Dallas office?
Finkelstein: The Texas economy has rebounded much more rapidly than in other parts of the country; and as businesses here have aggressively pursued opportunities, we have been able to partner with our clients in helping them meet their objectives. I believe it is the quality of the lawyers who joined Dykema Texas that fueled our growth. Clients follow good lawyers, especially when they join a firm with good core values.
Editor: Are there any other strategic reasons for expanding the Texas practice?
Finkelstein: Dykema Gossett is committed to growth in the Texas region, as well as to other expanding markets such as Minnesota (our most recent expansion). Some of the firm's most active and well-respected practice groups service the automotive, financial services and healthcare industries. In my view, in order for a firm to be on the "short list" of counsel for matters in those areas in 2014 and beyond, being part of a national practice requires a strong Texas presence.
Editor: Why are you expanding into the specific practice areas you have chosen?
Finkelstein: Our focus during the next year will be to expand our corporate/transactional, healthcare and government practices in the Lone Star State. Growth in these areas will be synergistic with Dykema's strengths in other markets.
Editor: Please describe the history of the Texas offices.
Finkelstein: Dykema is now beginning its seventh year in Texas. Our office has grown by a third, including expanding to Austin, in the last year and a half. The Dallas office was opened primarily with IP and IP litigation attorneys. We now have members whose practices focus on appeals, bankruptcy, commercial litigation, corporate & finance matters, real estate, hospitality, L&E, healthcare and white collar defense.
Editor: How will the growth of the Texas office affect the firm overall?
Finkelstein: Growth in new markets will undoubtedly make the firm more national in its goals. Each office brings a new perspective to the table.
Editor: I see that when Dykema’s first Texas office opened in Dallas in 2007, the focus was on intellectual property and litigation. How has the focus changed over the years?
Finkelstein: IP remains an important part of our practice. Last year we recruited Victor Johnson, a very talented IP litigator, to Dykema Texas. Victor was a partner at Fish & Richardson and most recently established his own boutique. We were fortunate to convince Victor that he could grow his practice by joining our IP group and tapping into our IP lawyers in Washington, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and LA.
Editor: Which practice has emerged as your most reliable growth practice in Texas?
Finkelstein: Our most active practice group in Texas at the present time is litigation.
Editor: How have the needs of your clients changed recently?
Finkelstein: Our clients, like all clients, are faced with new challenges in today's business world. Cybersecurity, privacy, protection of intangibles (from brands to business processes) and government regulation are issues for virtually all businesses today. Law firms must meet those needs not merely by offering good counsel but by proactively communicating with clients on issues before they become problems.
Notably, effective representation before government agencies is a must to many of our clients. In this area, for example, we have a super lineup in Texas. David Schenck and Chris Kratovil have vast appellate experience, and David served in the Texas Attorney General's Office. In Austin, Drew McEwen and Scott Oldham regularly navigate the regulatory waters, especially on state tax matters.
Editor: I see that David Schenck is the team leader for the Specialized Litigation & Advanced Motion Team. Is this a new team within Dykema’s Litigation Practice Group? Describe for our readers how the focus of this team differs from traditional commercial litigation.
Finkelstein: David heads up our newly created specialized litigation and appellate team, which handles matters that have far-reaching implications often beyond the dollars involved. He brings a unique skill set to Dykema. Not only is he a talented appellate lawyer (having clerked at the Fifth Circuit), but he has a valuable perspective on the manner in which political, economic and industry-wide factors affect the state's position in litigation and administrative proceedings. David and his team often approach issues pre-litigation by analyzing other options, such as lobbying for legislation or agency rule-making to address the issues, and if litigation becomes necessary, they insure that the critical issues are properly pleaded and preserved and brought to the attention of appropriate parties. Negotiating with governmental bodies is often more productive when far-reaching precedents on politically sensitive issues can be avoided.
Editor: Describe your own practice. How has it changed over the years?
Finkelstein: My training was as a trial lawyer, beginning at Baylor School of Law, followed by a clerkship for Judge Tom Reavley at the Texas Supreme Court. Over the years, I was fortunate enough to represent many Texas banks and ultimately devoted much of my time to bankruptcy and corporate restructuring matters. I headed up Hughes & Luce's bankruptcy group for many years. During my career, however, I consistently represented many privately owned companies and acted, and continue to act, as their outside counsel. Being a part of the growth of a company and being the owners' advisor have been very rewarding.
Editor: You have added Arlene Switzer Steinfield as senior counsel to Dallas’s Labor and Employment Practice. How will her experience change the breadth of your offerings?
Finkelstein: Arlene brings a much-needed specialty, labor and employment law, to us. Arlene has been my neighbor and colleague for many years. I'm proud to say I recruited Arlene twice, first to join us at Hughes & Luce and again last year to join us at Dykema. Arlene is both a talented litigator and a savvy counselor. One area in which Arlene excels is conducting internal investigations and advising management on delicate matters where discretion and "keeping under the radar" are paramount concerns.
We believe Arlene will be elected to the board of the American College of Labor Lawyers next month. The recognition by her peers of her skills and talents is indeed high praise for an attorney.
Editor: As you look to the future, what are the industry and economic trends in the region you are anticipating?
Finkelstein: Healthcare, energy and real estate will be growth areas in Texas. Our state is pro-business, and executives around the country know this. The state will continue to attract businesses, and law firms with significant capabilities in Texas should prosper.
Published October 23, 2014.