In The News

Munsch Hardt Adds ERISA, Health Care Practices with Lateral Hires

Jan 12, 2017
Texas Lawyer

Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr has expanded its practice area offerings with two new shareholders in Dallas from Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller, which has shed numerous lawyers since it began planning to dissolve late last year.

Richard Cheng brought his health care practice to Munsch Hardt, along with a sideline in cannabis law, and Quitman "Q" Stephens added an ERISA/employee benefits practice to the firm.

Phil Appenzeller, CEO of 120-lawyer Munsch Hardt, said Cheng's health care expertise will complement the firm's transactional work in the health care industry. He said Stephens brings welcome ERISA expertise to the firm, which had been referring out that work.

Stephens said he and Cheng decided while at Shannon Gracey last year that they needed to "consider our other options." After talking to a number of other firms, Cheng said they met with Appenzeller and others at Munsch Hardt in mid-October, and they made a quick lateral move to join Munsch Hardt in mid-November.

Shannon Gracey, which lost several groups of lawyers during the fall of 2016, was set to dissolve at the end of the year. Richard Lowe, managing partner of the Fort Worth-based firm, has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Stephens said he and Cheng do a lot of client work together, and Munsch Hardt is a good fit for them because of the firm's "collaborative energy."

Cheng declined to identify his clients but said the vast majority are in the health care industry including physician groups, community hospitals, labs and management service organizations. Along with his focus on health care regulatory, compliance and corporate matters, he also serves as a special counsel for individuals in the health care industry facing white-collar criminal charges.

As part of his health care practice, Cheng said he also works in the cannabis law arena. Cheng said he represents the Texas Canabis Industry Association and a company that hopes to soon grow and process marijuana that can be sold for limited medical purposes in Texas. "It's one of the areas I have been trying diligently to grow," Cheng said.

Stephens said ERISA is also a growing area, particularly in light of imminent threats to Affordable Care Act and other regulatory changes that could affect health care plans provided by public and private companies.

By: Brenda Sapino Jeffreys