Streusand Starts Her Own Firm

2008-05-02: Austin Business Journal – by Jean Kwon ABJ Staff

Sabrina Streusand, managing partner of former law firm Hughes and Luce LLP,­ has hung out her own shingle.

Dallas-based Hughes and Luce, which had about 20 lawyers in Austin, announced its merger with behemoth Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP in late December. Streusand was managing partner of the Austin office for four years.

Streusand and another former Hughes and Luce partner, labor and employment lawyer James Landon, started Streusand and Landon LLP in April.

The new firm will focus on business bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, labor and employment, and commercial litigation. Its office is located on the 16th floor at 816 Congress Avenue, across the street from the Austin Museum of Art.

Streusand says the impetus for her move was the number of client conflicts she faced as a result of the merger. K & L Gates — as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart is called — has 1,500 lawyers in 26 offices. Hughes and Luce had about 150 lawyers in Dallas, Houston and Austin.

“We thought this was an opportunity to better take care of our clients,” says Streusand. “There is a difference between being with a regional Texas firm and becoming part of a firm that has 1,500 attorneys.”

Streusand say her departure was amicable and that K & L Gates will remain a referral source, and vice versa.

“We’re friends, and [leaving] wasn’t an easy decision to make,” says Streusand, a 36-year legal veteran who was with the firm for 11 years. Landon also practiced at Hughes and Luce for 11 years.

Streusand and Landon’s clients include local companies such as Dell Inc. [Nasdaq: DELL], Vignette Corp. [Nasdaq: VIGN], Teco-Westinghouse Motor Co. and Hoover’s Inc., as well as out-of-state companies such as credit report company Dun & Bradstreet [NYSE: DNB] and Western United Life Assurance Co.

The firm will likely ramp up to 10 to 15 partners and associates in the next two years, says Streusand.

“We want to stay moderately sized so we can stay efficient and responsive,” she says.

Streusand says despite the stumbling national economy and credit crunch, she hasn’t had more than the usual share of local bankruptcies.

“Austin still seems to be a strong economy,” says Streusand. “It’s in the Northeast that you are seeing more Chapter 11s.”

But Streusand says she and Landon keep plenty busy with transactional work like credit restructuring, refinancing and employment contracts, such as noncompete and severance agreements.

Lee Allbritton, principal at recruiting firm Amicus Search Group LLC, says it’s typical for attorneys to decamp after a merger.

“It’s not uncommon for as many as 80 percent of attorneys in the smaller entity to leave the newly merged entity within five years,” he says.

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