Law Firms

Austin's Oldest Law Firm Struggles to Survive, Announces Major Restructuring

Clark, Thomas & Winters will undergo major restructuring in the coming weeks, further fueling speculation that the oldest and formerly largest law firm in Austin, Texas may soon close.

Thursday’s announcement adds to a growing list of incidents that paint a grim picture of the Clark Thomas’ future. Earlier this month, nine lawyers who constituted a substantial segment of the firm’s pharmaceutical practice joined the Austin office of Minneapolis-based Bowman and Brooke.

According to the firm’s website, Clark Thomas currently employs 64 lawyers, but that’s down from 120 in 2009, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The rumor-plagued firm is also facing a decline in revenue. Texas Lawyer magazine’s latest survey of the state’s top 25 law firms shows that Clark Thomas’ revenue dropped more than $4 million in 2009. The reduction in revenue can be blamed in part on the bankruptcy of Chrysler, one of the firm’s biggest clients, the American-Statesman says.

But the firm’s finances may be a result of the harsh economic times, William Cobb, a Houston law firm consultant, told the American-Statesman. In 2009 and 2010, the biggest 250 law firms in the U.S. had about 8,000 layoffs and cutbacks in staff and attorneys, Cobb said.

The financially challenged law firm has a 70-year relationship with the Pedernales Electric Cooperative. The two Central Texas institutions are both linked to former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his associates, according to the American-Statesman.

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