Charlotte just attracted another big law firm to town. Local finance lawyer Justin Riess is spearheading the new office of Haynes and Boone LLP, which ranked 83rd in the National Law Journal’s 2018 ranking of U.S. firms based on size. The Dallas-based firm, which started in 1970, has about 575 lawyers and 16 other offices. Riess, who has spent his entire career in Charlotte, worked at Moore & Van Allen PLLC, the largest N.C.-based law firm, then moved to Atlanta-based King & Spalding, where he was a partner in the Corporate, Finance & Investments Practice Group for nearly a decade. Veteran Haynes and Boone partners Todd Cubbage and C. Kyle Musgrove have moved to Charlotte to represent the firm. Riess discussed the expansion.
What prompted Haynes and Boone to open this office?
The firm has long considered opening a Charlotte office to better serve its clients that are based here or regularly do business in the Queen City. Many of the firm’s client relationships in Charlotte go back more than 15 years. When I agreed to join Haynes and Boone and some of our veteran partners agreed to be based in Charlotte, the firm considered it a perfect opportunity.
Why did you decide to make this change?
I have been fortunate to work for two excellent law firms in Charlotte, but the opportunity to help Haynes and Boone expand its Charlotte presence was too good to pass up. Teaming with a nationally recognized firm with a top-tier finance practice to establish roots in a great city like Charlotte is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In addition, Haynes and Boone has a number of dynamic, international clients that are based in Charlotte, and the firm’s national platform will be of great benefit to me and my clients. Finally, I have been given the opportunity to play a role in helping to grow the finance practice in other markets, including New York, where I am licensed.
How many people will be working at the office initially?
We’ll start with three full-time lawyers in the office and will bring on additional talent as needed to meet the demands of our clients. Mr. Cubbage and Mr. Musgrove are both long-time Haynes and Boone partners.
Is Charlotte the smallest city where Haynes and Boone has an office?
The firm has 17 offices worldwide, including New York, London and other major cities. That being said, Haynes and Boone has always been focused on the needs of their clients and that is what drives new office locations. Many firm clients reside in Charlotte, so it’s a natural expansion. The firm has offices in similarly-sized cities such as Austin, Denver and San Antonio.
What advantages do international law firms claim over large regional firms?
There are a number of advantages. Some are simple efficiencies that help deals run smoother which, in turn, saves our clients money. For example, when a client hires Haynes and Boone, they aren’t just hiring a North Carolina attorney but an attorney in every location where Haynes and Boone has an office. If that client has a question about laws in the United Kingdom, I can just pick up the phone and call one of our partners in London and track down an answer.
For a regional firm, they would need to research a firm in London, talk to the client about what firm to choose in London and then that London firm would need to run conflicts searches and be formally engaged. That process can be inefficient and expensive. International firms also have a larger pool of attorneys with a greater breadth of experience and clientele.
The hot button issues of my clients in North Carolina may be different than the issues of our clients in Texas, California or New York. The access to global issues in real time is a great way for me to provide value to my local clients by putting the issues in front of them before they become a problem. Finally, an international platform also helps us provide referrals and other benefits to our clients.