Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP traces its history back to the beginning of the 20th century, when two separate firms—Munford, Hunton, Williams & Anderson and Andrews & Ball—were formed in different regions of the country.
In 1901, two young Richmond, Virginia lawyers, Randolph Williams and Henry Anderson, partnered with two of Virginia’s most respected lawyers, Beverly Munford and Eppa Hunton Jr. to form Munford, Hunton, Williams & Anderson. A year later, in 1902, Andrews & Ball was formed in Houston, Texas, when an experienced and influential trial lawyer, Frank Andrews, and US Congressman Thomas Ball, partnered to provide legal services to clients such as Gulf Coast Lines, Bankers Trust Company and Union National Bank.
Both firms grew considerably in their first few years. Munford, Hunton, Williams & Anderson (later to become Hunton & Williams) established its industry base by representing railroads, banks, insurance companies and energy companies. The firm also argued over 40 cases before the Virginia’s highest court during its first decade.
Andrews & Ball made an indelible mark on Houston during its beginning years, assisting clients such as Howard Hughes Sr. in forming Hughes Tool Company. In 1934, the firm added Melvin Kurth as a name partner. Upon the death of Frank Andrews in 1936, Melvin Kurth became the firm’s administrative partner.
During the 1930s, Hunton & Williams argued one of the first cases before the National Labor Relations Board, gaining a national reputation in labor law. The Richmond firm also continued to play a key role in the bankruptcy and reorganization of some of the country’s largest railroads during the Depression era. Its representation of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company resulted in an amendment to the Federal Bankruptcy Act. In 1935, the firm raised its national profile by representing the utilities industry before Congress.
By the 1950s, Andrews Kurth had developed a growing specialization in legal issues related to the natural gas pipeline industry. The firm’s practice grew to encompass Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proceedings, complex infrastructure projects, and corporate mergers and divestitures. During the 1960s, the Houston firm became known for its bankruptcy practice following its representation of the trustee in the reorganization of Westec Corporation. Meanwhile, the 1950s and 1960s saw Hunton & Williams establish full-fledged practices in labor, tax and litigation.
Hunton & Williams continued to grow into the 1970s. In 1971, Hunton & Williams senior partner, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the same decade, Andrews Kurth advised client Hughes Tool on a $150 million public offering of shares in its Oil Tool Division. The firm also won the reversal of a $145 million antitrust judgment in the US Supreme Court. After the death of Howard Hughes, Jr. in 1976, Andrews Kurth began 20 years of work on tax planning, administrative, litigation, asset liquidation and inheritance disputes involving his estate.
Through the 1970s and into the early 1990s, Hunton & Williams worked on licensing 10 commercial nuclear reactors at six sites. Building on its utility and nuclear work, the firm became a prominent figure in the burgeoning area of energy and environmental law. In 1983, Hunton & Williams partner John Charles Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, becoming both the first African American to serve on the court as well as the youngest at age 32. Hunton & Williams became an international law firm with the opening of a Brussels office in 1989, and by the end of that decade, had grown to more than 350 lawyers in seven offices.
Andrews Kurth also grew during the 1980s, particularly the firm’s bankruptcy practice, which represented clients in the high profile filings of Braniff, Continental Airways, The Hunt Brothers, Global Marine and Republic Bank. In the early 1980s, the firm’s tax lawyers developed a new publicly traded partnership called the master limited partnership (MLP), cementing the firm’s position as an innovator in arranging publicly traded partnerships.
By the 1990s, energy M&A boomed, and Andrews Kurth was a significant player in the market, with deals like El Paso Corporation’s acquisition of Tenneco. In addition to a surge in M&A work, the firm began the lengthy process of liquidating the Bank of New England Corporation, a $32 billion bank holding company which was forced to file Chapter 7 when the FDIC seized its banks across New England. The firm was also retained to assist Argentina in privatizing its state-owned oil and natural gas companies, raising the firm’s profile in Latin America.
During the 1990s, Hunton & Williams opened several offices in Europe and Asia. Firm lawyers played a major role in the $2.3 billion Midland Cogeneration Venture transaction, then the largest project financing of its kind in US history.
The 2000s saw the introduction of new practices and lawyers to Hunton & Williams, including additions to its litigation and regulatory practices, and significant expansions to its business group. The seeds of what was to become one of the country’s leading privacy and cybersecurity practices were also planted. During the 2000s, Andrews Kurth opened several international offices, including in Beijing, Dubai and London. The firm merged with Mayor Day Caldwell & Keeton in 2001, bringing on an additional 100 lawyers. The firm also represented litigation trustees in some of the biggest fraudulent transfer spin-off cases in the country. On the corporate and business transaction side, Andrews Kurth’s represented clients in the shale oil and gas boom, spurred in large part by innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. With the firm’s help, its energy clients grew significantly during this period, solidifying both the firm’s reputation as a go-to counsel for clients in the energy industry and Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world. Later in 2016, the firm added more than 50 lawyers from intellectual property powerhouse Kenyon & Kenyon. With this addition, the firm name changed to Andrews Kurth Kenyon.
In 2018, Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth Kenyon merged to become Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. The combined firm now consists of nearly 1,000 lawyers with offices in 14 US and five international cities.