Gene Besen Featured in Law360 Pulse Q&A on Dallas Office Growth and Plans

April, 2024 - Birmingham, Alabama

Bradley partner Gene Besen was featured in Law360 Pulse in a Q&A session regarding the firm’s Dallas office growth and expansion strategy.

Besen, who serves as managing partner of the Dallas office, explained that office growth “has been seeing us go from the smallest office by revenue and headcount to now the firm's third-largest office by revenue and headcount." Regarding the office space, Besen said, "We're basically out of space on our two floors, so the third became a necessity. We also needed a conference room that could handle all of our partners." Besen expects the "phenomenal and exponential" growth in Dallas, and in Texas more broadly, to continue.

Law 360 Pulse: Can you talk more about the firm's rapid expansion in Dallas?

Besen: We've been very diligent in trying to grow out a full-service office and I feel like we've done that. We still have more growing to do and we're going to do it with balance. We're continuing to grow our transactional practices, and the controversy side of the house is busy and will keep growing as well. I don't think there's a big practice area we're missing at the moment.

We have great momentum and a niche in the market. Bradley is an incredible brand with great lawyers and a great reputation. Because we are so well run and so well managed financially, our overhead for lawyers is materially lower than at our peer firms. This gives us greater partner profits, which attracts people, and a lot of flexibility.

The pace of growth right now is that we're adding 10 to 15 associates and laterals a year. With our new floor we should have enough offices for 80 to 85 lawyers, and I expect we'll be at 80 by 2026.

At some firms, partners are getting pushed to bill over $1,200 an hour. A lawyer can come here and still bill that if they want to, but they could also offer a rate of $850 and get the work in the door and nobody here is going to be bothered at all.

Jennifer Trulock, a partner who joined our labor and employment practice in February from Baker Botts, can take the same practice she had there and now expand it with work that she was priced out of before and that a firm like Baker Botts doesn't want.

We're not going to compete with Kirkland and Sidley for private equity and M&A work, and we don't need to. Clients who need high-end government investigations representation or high-end and middle-market corporate work, for example, can come here and save a little money.

 I think that's been the secret sauce.

Law360: How do you approach retention?

Besen: We integrate our attorneys in an incredibly intentional way. We don't just recruit someone, stick them in an office and then say, "Good luck." We have a plan.

There are people assigned from a specific practice group, from the growth and expansion committee and from the local office that are all assigned to mentor and shepherd, to make sure they're fully integrated into the firm.

We rally around our new people and guard our culture carefully. Once we get the 34th floor done, we're going to shuffle everybody around so the new floor isn't just all new lawyers on one floor.

Culturally it's almost automatic. Here in Dallas, when somebody joins, the instant question I have is: "How can I get you connected to my clients? What can you do that I couldn't offer that we can go sell?" It truly is hunting in packs. For example, Jennifer Trulock and I were working with a client [on a recent night] who had some pretty big governance issues, potentially exiting a founder and president of one of his business units. The client needed quick, late-night advice on how to handle that 9:30 a.m. meeting the next morning.

That type of collaboration has made us successful. That cultural desire to sell one another to our clients. Our goal is to institutionalize the client and become their trusted adviser for all their legal needs.

As managing partner here in Dallas, I have it pretty easy because we have such a tremendously talented group of partners. The culture creates a connective tissue and loyalty to one another.

Law360: How do the firm's Dallas and Houston locations work together?

Besen: There is a lot of cross-office work in the firm, and we don't compete with each other. We are fully integrated, not just in Texas, but across the firm.

Rob Ford, who is the managing partner in Houston, is a great connector and builder. I want us talking internally at Bradley about Texas, and my vision is that in the next five years, the Houston and Dallas offices combined will be home to the bulk of the lawyers in the firm. I think there's a good chance we'll achieve that.

Houston is a little newer on growing their transactional side, so they're focusing on that a lot. They also need a lot of litigation help in Houston, where we have a few partners with exploding books of business, and we're having trouble hiring fast enough to get them the help they need.

I think what we've been brilliant about is investing strategically and attracting partners that can help drive the growth locally, no matter where we are. Teamwork. That's why we're so successful — it's teamwork.

The full article, “How Bradley Arant is Keeping Up with Growth in Dallas Shop,” was published by Law360 Pulse on April 10, 2024.