Thompson & Knight Expands Government/Regulatory Practice, Adding Attorney to Austin Office

The law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP has announce the addition of Joseph P. Younger as Counsel in the Government/Regulatory Practice Group of the Firm’s Austin office.

“Joseph’s experience as a lawyer at the Texas Public Utility Commission will build upon the depth of expertise the Firm has in electricity-related regulatory matters, power market and electric project development issues,” said James C. Morriss III, the Firm’s Government/ Regulatory Practice Group Leader and Austin Office Leader. “We are excited to welcome him to our team.”

Younger focuses his practice on regulatory and administrative law, federal and state government affairs, and project development. As a former attorney and legal division director for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, he has specific expertise regarding energy and electric power markets. He also has experience regarding telecommunications and water rights issues.

Admitted to practice in Texas, Younger received his Ph.D. and M.A. in History from Princeton University in 2011 and 2007, respectively. He earned a J.D., with highest honors, from Columbia University School of Law in 2001 and a B.A., with high honors, in History and Latin American Studies from Haverford College in 1998. Prior to joining Thompson & Knight, Younger served as the Director of the Legal Department for the Texas Public Utility Commission. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Slack & Davis Hosts Managing Partners Forum

Slack & Davis, a personal injury firm based in Austin, hosted the “Managing Partners Forum” on November 6, 2014, at Slack & Davis’ Austin office with guest speaker Judy Osborn, a lawyer for employers.

Osborn’s presentation, “What You May Not Know About Your Employees – Including Your Income Partners,” discussed employment issues facing law firms. Attendees of the Forum included managing partners of several Austin law firms.

The Managing Partners Forum will be held two or three times each year and discuss topics, such as the challenges of dealing with aging partners and guiding firm transitions. The next Forum will be hosted by Husch Blackwell in Austin early next year.

If you are interested in attending a future Forum, please contact Bonnie Zook at bzook@slackdavis.com.

Winstead PC Adds Texas-Ex to Austin Office

Winstead PC has announced the hiring of Daniel Lord as an associate to its Austin office.

Daniel LordLord, previously an associate at Thompson & Knight in Dallas, represents clients in commercial loans and workouts, CMBS related financing and the acquisition, sale and development of real property.

He received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, with honors.

 

Central Texas Lawyer Blogs about Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Brad Wiewel of the Wiewel Law Firm recently wrote about Common Estate Planning Mistakes for his blog. The piece follows:

Many people who make the correct decision to create estate plans often make common mistakes while doing so or afterwards. These mistakes can be easily avoided.

It is not enough to decide to make an estate plan and to then create one. Those are just two steps in the estate planning process. People who do nothing more often make big mistakes that could have easily been avoided, as CNBC reported in a recent article titled “Trust Bust: Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate-planning mistakes.”

The CNBC list includes the following mistakes to avoid:

  • Thinking your state will handle everything – You cannot rely on the state to deal with any assets that are not covered in your estate plan.
  • Setting up a trust and forgetting about it – You need to fund your trust or having the trust does no good.
  • Setting it and forgetting it – When circumstances change, your estate plan needs to be changed as well.
  • Think all assets will follow your will and trust – Some assets such as retirement accounts might not follow your estate plan’s distribution priorities.
  • Relying on a DIY trust – You need a trust prepared by a professional, not one created by a form.
  • Giving too much too soon – Gifting during your life can be good, but not if you give everything away when you might need it later.
  • Not thinking of children’s needs – If your children have different needs, you might want to consider giving to them differently
  • Choosing the wrong trustee – It is not always a good idea to name a family member to be your trustee.

Reference: CNBC (October 22, 2014) “Trust Bust: Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate-planning mistakes”

Austin City Group of the Legal Marketing Association Wants to Buy Your Coffee Tomorrow Morning

Every so often, The Austin City Group of the Legal Marketing Association reaches out to existing or prospective members with an offer to buy your coffee and network.

Tuesday morning, the LMA will host such an event at Cafe Medici on 200 Congress Ave, starting at 7:30 a.m. and continuing till 8::30 a.m.

If you have any questions, here’s the LMA local leadership:

 

 

Texas Legal Protection Plan Changes Name to Texas Legal, Highlights Mission

Texas Legal, founded by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Legislature in 1972, has changed its name.

Formerly known as “Texas Legal Protection Plan,” Texas Legal offers comprehensive legal coverage for every stage in life such as adoptions, divorces and estate planning. Membership in Texas Legal covers legal expenses much like health insurance covers medical expenses. A low monthly fee gives members access to a network of attorneys throughout the state.

“Texas Legal provides Texans an affordable way to pay for most legal issues,” James “Jim” Buck, president of Texas Legal, said. “Hiring an attorney or having funds readily available when an attorney is needed is a challenging task for most consumers. We help Texans get the legal help they need and make the process easy for them.”

According to a study conducted by the Research Intelligence Group, 58 million Americans sought an attorney during 2012, and 110 million have sought legal counsel at least once in their lives. This underscores the importance of having a legal plan in place to help consumers remove the uncertainty about seeking legal services.

Texas Legal provides legal insurance for companies, groups and individuals throughout the state. It is the only nonprofit legal insurance company in Texas that offers plans for individuals who are not part of a group plan.

The policy for one year for a family costs about the same as one hour of an attorney’s time and can be used for a wide variety of legal issues, including estate planning, adoptions, divorce, foreclosure, identity theft, traffic tickets, bankruptcy and more. The member can choose his/her attorney from a network of attorneys across the state and can use different attorneys depending on the issue they are facing. Texas Legal members also have unlimited access to a free legal hotline.

To learn more about Texas Legal, visit www.texaslegal.org.

Greenberg Traurig Expands Austin Office by Five Attorneys

Greenberg Traurig LLP has announced the hire of five attorneys and one director across various practice areas including real estate, energy regulatory, corporate & securities and government law & policy to its Austin office.

The group includes shareholders Joshua Bernstein, Todd Kimbrough and Elizabeth Rogers, along with associates William Teten, Jr. and Katie Van Dyk. Rounding out the group is Government Law & Policy senior director, Dr. Jennifer McEwan.

Bernstein focuses his practice on transactional real estate matters, with an emphasis on homebuilding, development, and the establishment and governance of master planned communities, property owners’ associations and condominiums. Bernstein’s clients include national and regional homebuilders, as well as owners and developers of property, whom he regularly assists with respect to financing, acquisition, development, governance, leasing, management and sale of both residential properties (including single-family residential, multi-family residential and condominium properties) and commercial projects (including office, retail, hotel and entertainment assets). He also advises institutional clients and individuals on general business and corporate matters. Bernstein received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law and his B.A. from The Ohio State University.

Kimbrough focuses his practice on regulatory and market issues for participants in electricity markets in the United States and abroad. This work has included the drafting and negotiation of complex agreements for the construction and operation of power plants as well as numerous regulatory proceedings related to generation, transmission and rates. Kimbrough has been involved in the approval or development of more than $25 billion in electricity infrastructure improvements in the past 10 years. He has counseled utilities in rate cases, CCN proceedings and IRP approvals in Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and before FERC. Prior to joining the firm, Kimbrough served as General Counsel for the third largest municipal electric utility in Texas. Kimbrough received his J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, his M.S. from Texas A&M University and his B.A. from Southwestern University.

Rogers comes to the firm from her most recent position as the first Chief Privacy Officer in Texas State Government when she joined the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Office. At Greenberg Traurig, Rogers focuses her practice on data privacy and cyber security matters, including those related to privacy implications arising in mobile applications and software licensing agreements, negotiating cyber security insurance policy language, negotiating privacy and security controls in third party vendor contracts, and creating enterprise wide privacy programs to protect against-cyber security threats. Rogers received her J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law and her B.A. from The University of Texas at El Paso.

Teten, Jr. joins the firm as a corporate associate and concentrates his practice on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, project development, capital markets and corporate governance. Teten received his J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and his B.A. from The University of Texas.

Van Dyk has experience working on various commercial and residential real estate matters, including real estate transactions, land use, entitlements, and condominium and homeowners association matters. She is experienced at handling complex real estate transactions and in dealing with subdivision and zoning issues with city staff and the Land Use Commissions and City Councils in Austin and the surrounding cities. Van Dyk received her J.D. from Tulane University Law School and her B.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin.

McEwan is experienced in advocacy and policy research for regional and statewide mobility coalitions, chamber organizations, trade associations, institutions of higher learning and public education coalitions, in addition to numerous statewide appointed task forces and the Sunset Advisory Commission. McEwan is also experienced developing and implementing strategies and supporting data for advocacy, working with state legislators, and county judges and other elected officials regarding transportation and infrastructure policy issues. McEwan received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, her M.A. from Texas State University – San Marcos and her B.A. from Texas A&M University.

Austin Attorney at Husch Blackwell Writes about Medicaid

Kris Kwolek, an Austin-based attorney at Husch Blackwell LLP, recently wrote about the Medicaid issue in the state of Texas and how recent changes were proposed to how it is regulated in the firm’s Health Law Insights.

Kwolek writes:

“The Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) proposed changes on Oct. 17, 2014, to its regulations that largely prohibit “incident to” billing for advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and physician assistant (PA) providers. Specifically, changes proposed to Tex. Admin. Code Title 1 §§355.1001 and 355.1062 prohibit a service performed by an APRN or PA from being billed under the billing number of a supervising physician unless the physician made a decision regarding the patient’s care or treatment during the billable medical visit and documented that decision in the patient’s record. See 39 Texas Register 8107 (Oct. 17, 2014).

While Texas Medicaid regulations currently do not specifically authorize “incident to” billing (billing for a service performed by an APRN, PA or other person as if it was performed by the physician), Medicaid regulations arguably appear to acknowledge “incident to” billing. For example, the Texas Medicaid Provider Procedure Manual states that an APRN or PA employed or remunerated by certain entities, including a physician, may not bill independently for services if doing so would result in duplicate payment for the services (i.e., both the physician and APRN or PA bill for the service). See Texas Medicaid Provider Procedures Manual, Vol 2. Medical and Nursing Specialists, Physicians, And Physician Assistants Handbook §8.2 (Oct. 2014).

The proposed change is a significant departure from Medicare “incident to” billing principles and will require practices seeing both Medicare and Medicaid patients to carefully monitor billing. Under the proposed rule, APRN or PA service may only be billed as if the physician performed the service if the physician made a decision regarding the patient’s care or treatment during the billable medical visit and documented that decision in the patient’s record. See 39 Texas Register 8109 (Oct. 17, 2014). If a physician bills for an APRN or PA service and the physician does not meet the requirement above, the physician must indicate on the claim that service was performed by an APRN or PA. Currently, HHSC directs use of the modifier SA to reflect APRN services and U7 to reflect PA services. See Texas Medicaid Provider Procedures Manual, Vol 1. §6.3.5 (Oct. 2014).

Although the requirement for a physician to render a medical decision during a patient’s medical visit represents a significant limitation, the lack of specificity regarding the manner in which physician supervision is to be provided creates potential for certain practice arrangements utilize APRNs and PAs with more certainty regarding compliance when those services are billed under a physician’s billing number.

Written comments on the proposal may be submitted by Nov. 16, 2014, to Alexander Melis, project manager, 4900 N. Lamar Blvd., Mail Code H310, Austin, TX 78751; by fax to 512-730-7472; or by email to alex.melis@hhsc.state.tx.us.”

Pirkey Barber’s Louis Pirkey to Receive Distinguished Lawyer Award

Intellectual Property attorney Louis T. Pirkey has been selected as one of two recipients of the Austin Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Lawyer Award for 2015.  The award is given annually to an Austin-area attorney in practice for more than 30 years in recognition of his or her significant contributions to the profession and the community. It is the highest award given by the association.

Pirkey pioneered the private practice of intellectual property law in Austin when he relocated his practice to Austin in 1977.  He is a founding member of trademark specialty firm Pirkey Barber PLLC, where he continues to maintain his practice.

“Lou Pirkey is a true legend in the field of trademark law,” said Steve Meleen, managing member of Pirkey Barber. “His accomplishments on behalf of his clients are too numerous to count, but his contributions outside of the courtroom are just as important. Humble, generous, and a true gentleman, Lou has worked tirelessly to help shape the field of trademark law at a national level and has been a role model and mentor to generations of young lawyers, including all of us at Pirkey Barber.”Lou Pirkey

Pirkey has protected the trademark interests of companies, individuals, and institutions large and small, including pro bono work for arts and religious groups among others.  In the process, he has protected the valuable brands of some of Texas and America’s most notable institutions and corporations including The University of Texas, 3M, HEB, Pillsbury, Burger King, ExxonMobil, Medtronic, Dell, Haagen-Dazs, H.J. Heinz, TGI Friday’s, and Baylor University.

The National Law Journal has called Pirkey “the nation’s foremost trademark litigator.” Texas Lawyer magazine named him a “Legal Legend” and in 2010 included him on its list of “The 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the past Quarter Century.”

Despite a busy schedule, he has influenced a generation of attorneys as an adjunct professor of trademark law at The University of Texas School of Law for 20 years.

Pirkey served as president of the 15,000-member American Intellectual Property Law Association. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to several conferences on trademark reform convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and was also a member of the U.S. Trademark Review Commission which proposed revisions of the federal trademark statute enacted by Congress in 1988.

Pirkey will receive the award at the Austin Bar Foundation’s annual gala at the Four Seasons Hotel on January 31, 2015.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” Pirkey said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a long career in a field I enjoy, working with smart, talented colleagues and peers who have made it a pleasure. To be recognized by such a distinguished group is a high honor.”

Austin Firm Launches Antitrust Law Practice Area

DiNovo Price Ellwanger & Hardy LLP, a boutique litigation law firm, has launched a new antitrust practice area in response to “client and market demand for protection from anticompetitive restraints.”

Christopher Goodpastor has joined the firm as a partner and will lead the new antitrust practice area.

“The number of federal antitrust lawsuits filed in Texas surged in 2013 and we only see that demand climbing,” said Jay D. Ellwanger, managing partner, DiNovo Price. “Christopher’s extensive litigation experience in a variety of business disputes in both trial and appellate courts expands and deepens our core offerings in IP. We are excited to add Chris and bring this caliber of representation to our clients.”

The new antitrust practice area will include client cases involving price-fixing, bid-rigging, monopolization, and issues arising from the conduct of standard-setting organizations and their members.

A 20-year veteran of intellectual property and related legal issues, Goodpastor has represented clients before the United States Courts of Appeal for the Fifth and Ninth Circuits, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas, and the United States District Courts for the Central and Northern Districts of California.

Goodpastor possesses experience across industries spanning computer software and hardware, integrated circuit fabrication, Internet and web services, securities and financial services, oil and gas production, telecommunications, health care and medical devices.

Goodpastor earned his J.D. with honors in 1994 from the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as managing editor of The Review of Litigation and chief notes editor of the Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal. Goodpastor earned a bachelor’s degree from the Chemical Engineering Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin in 1990.

Joining Goodpastor in DiNovo Price’s antitrust practice area is attorney Gabriel R. Gervey. A former Assistant Attorney General in both the Texas and Minnesota Offices of the Attorney General, Gervey investigated and prosecuted matters involving price-fixing, customer allocation, bid-rigging and monopolization.

Gervey recently served as lead trial counsel for the 33 Plaintiff States in State of Texas v. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., an enforcement action to remedy price-fixing in the market for electronic books. Gervey earned his J.D. cum laude in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he was named to the Order of the Coif. He also served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Susan Richard Nelson, United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.