National law firm opens Fort Worth office with plans to add more partners


Alston & Bird on Sept. 9 opened its first office in Fort Worth and expanded its Dallas office, deepening the firm’s Texas footprint and adding to its litigation and corporate offerings in the oil and gas industry.

Joining the Fort Worth office are two new litigation partners – Robert Vartabedian and Conrad Hester – both of whom arrive from Thompson & Knight LLP. Accompanying them are three other members of their team: senior associates Alix Allison and Nicholas Davis, who are based in Fort Worth, and associate Connor Bourland, who joins the firm’s Dallas office. Other litigation hires are planned, according to the firm. .

Also joining in Dallas is corporate partner Mitchell Griffith. He, too, comes from Thompson & Knight.

Alston & Bird corporate partner Darren Hauck will serve as the Fort Worth office’s partner in charge and play a key role in building out the office. Hauck is also partner in charge of the firm’s office in Dallas, where he has lived and practiced for more than 13 years.

“An office in Fort Worth furthers our growth in Texas while supporting the firm’s priority practices and industry groups,” said Alston & Bird Chairman and Managing Partner Richard Hays. “We are excited about the future and the exceptional talent of our new Fort Worth and Dallas attorneys, who significantly strengthen our energy offering and who will be pivotal to nurturing deep and enduring litigation and corporate client relationships within the industry.”

Vartabedian and Hester, who have practiced together for more than 12 years, have an oil and gas litigation practice. Among their recent successes, they secured a landmark win in Texas last year for BP America Production Company with a unanimous jury verdict in the retrial of a 12-year-old lease termination dispute brought by Laddex Ltd., an Amarillo-based oil company, according to an Alston * Bird news release.

Vartabedian focuses his practice on oil and gas trials and appeals. He represents some of the country’s most prominent public and private upstream energy companies in matters related to lease termination lawsuits, contract interpretation issues, royalty disputes, claims of breaches of implied covenants to oil and gas leases, surface use disputes, and breaches of joint operating agreements. 

Hester represents oil and gas clients in contract disputes, lease termination and title suits, surface access and damage disputes, and royalty litigation. He has drafted and negotiated deeds and leases and operational, production, and exploration agreements. Additionally, he represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters. He is board-certified in oil, gas, and mineral law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

“Rob and Conrad are super-talented litigators who have deep roots in the Texas energy market and have built an enviable reputation and track record of having won all 15-plus cases they have tried,” said Dan Diffley, Alston & Bird partner and co-chair of the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group. “Their practice is going gangbusters and will supercharge our litigation offering in the U.S. upstream sector, where we represent some of the world’s largest exploration and production companies in resolving their most complicated and significant legal problems.”

Arriving with Vartabedian and Hester is corporate partner Mitchell Griffith, who represents clients in a wide range of complex upstream, midstream, and renewables deals, as well as transactions in the manufacturing, health care, telecommunications, and retail industries. He focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital, corporate governance, and other corporate matters. His experience also includes equity financings for privately and publicly held companies, reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, stock and asset acquisitions, joint ventures, compliance with corporate governance regulations, public and private securities offerings, and other securities transactions.

“With market pressures building a wave of mergers and acquisitions and other deal making in the energy sector, Mitchell brings exceptional capabilities to our Texas practice and deepens our bench strength in advising oil and gas clients on a broad range of complex transactions,” said Justin Howard, Alston & Bird partner and co-leader of the firm’s Corporate & Business Transactions Group. “He works closely with Rob and Conrad in supporting the corporate needs of their energy clients and will continue to do so while positioning us to execute a wider range of transactions in Texas and across the U.S.”

The Fort Worth office opening and Dallas office expansion are the latest in a series of actions by Alston & Bird to build on its Texas presence since launching its Dallas office in 2007. In 2016, the firm added a five-member corporate team from Bracewell in Dallas. A year earlier, it brought in eight finance attorneys, including four partners, from Andrews Kurth LLP.

“Texas is a significant market for us and our clients, and we are excited to add these new lawyers to our growing practice,” said Hauck. “Leveraging their experience is a critical part of our growth strategy for oil and gas litigation and corporate work in Texas and other markets where we see significant client demand.”

The firm’s history dates back to 1893 through the long roots of the Alston, Miller & Gaines’ predecessor firms. The merger with Jones, Bird and Howell formed Alston & Bird in 1982. Expansion beyond Georgia began with the establishment of an office in Washington, DC, followed by the 1997 merger with Bell Seltzer Park & Gibson (Charlotte and Raleigh, NC) and Walter, Conston, Alexander & Green in 2001 (New York, NY), and the opening of an office in Dallas, in 2007. 

Alston & Bird’s Fort Worth office, at 3700 Hulen St., Building 3, Suite 150, is its 10th location in the U.S. and 13th globally.