Contract Dispute between Texas and Oklahoma State Festers

Like their sometimes bitter rivalry on the football field, there is little give between the University of Texas (UT) and Oklahoma State University (OSU) when it comes to the Joe Wickline litigation.

To refresh, Wickline was a highly prized offensive line coach at OSU. The university knew what that had in Wickline and therefore placed a clause in his contract that would be forbid him from making a lateral move to another college football program, unless he was willing to pay $600,000 penalty.

But if you believe OSU that is exactly what Wickline did when he took a job on Charlie Strong’s staff a little over a year ago. Wickline has claimed, however, that it wasn’t a lateral move and that he has play-calling duties, along with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, in Austin, which would nullify the penalty.

Both sides have dug in and discovery has begun.

The Austin American Statesman has reported that Oklahoma State Athletic Director Mike Holder suggested in a deposition that calling the plays is a one-man job and that the claims of Wickline and other Texas coaches I so much subterfuge.

“I don’t know if it’s normal for an offensive coordinator to call every play, but I just   — in my mind — I believe that Shawn Watson fills that role at Texas, not Joe Wickline,” Holder purportedly said.

Head Coach Charlie Strong has claimed that Wickline oversee the running plays, while Watson calls the pass plays.

Wickline’s attorney Guy Clark, of Northcutt Law Firm of Ponca City, Oklahoma, is reportedly focusing on the lack of specificity in the contract, questioning the OSU AD about whether the contract states that Wickline must call all the plays.

Strong, who announced in a press conference 15 months ago after Watson was hired that he would be calling the plays, noted in his deposition that he did not know about the clause until Wickline should it to him in March of 2014.

Austin’s Own Aviation Law Expert, Mike Slack, Looks at Recent Crashes, What They Mean

(Editor’s Note: Mike Slack of Slack & Davis (, a nationally recognized aviation law expert recently looked at the need to incorporate more modern technology in passenger jets.)

The recent crashes of Germanwings Flight 9525 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are tragic, but germane illustrations of the perils of the reliance on flight data boxes and the need to incorporate advanced technology for forensic and safety purposes in modern aircraft. The data recorders from Malaysia 370 have never been found and the recorders from Germanwings 9525 were almost destroyed.

Technology has advanced sufficiently in favor of supplemental programmed real-time data streaming. Besides implementing systems to detect the circumstances when real-time data streaming is appropriate, such systems could be expanded to detect potential peril and can alert ground personnel so that remote intervention to restore aircraft control could be attempted. The airline industry and major airframe manufacturers are not taking the appropriate initiatives to develop and advance these technologies and they aren’t being encouraged to do so by regulators

From real-time data streaming to “tattletale” systems and remotely piloted intervention systems, I am an advocate for advanced safety features to better detect and avert a potential crash. I also see a need to utilize Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data to track aircraft positions, especially in areas where radar services are limited or non-existent.

As a former aerospace engineer, I have devoted the last three decades of my life to improving air safety through precedent-setting cases and by advocating for changes by manufacturers and for improvements in the regulations promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration. I encourage more discussion and action related to technology and aviation safety – and much-needed advancements.

Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend Names New Associate

Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C.has named James F. Parker, III as an associate in the firm’s ,litigation and employment law practice groups.

Parker’s practice focuses on defending clients in commercial and employment litigation in cases ranging from complex contract, antitrust, and real estate litigation to employment discrimination and ERISA disputes.JamesParkerHeadshot

Prior to joining Lloyd Gosselink, he represented clients in business litigation matters and employment law in both Dallas and San Antonio.

Parker received his J.D. from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and his B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and has been admitted to the U.S. District Courts for the Western, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.

Central Texas Attorney Inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers

Karen C. Burgess, Esq. of Richardson & Burgess in Austin, TX was recently inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) at its annual meeting.

IATL limits membership to 500 Fellows from the United States. The Academy seeks out, identifies, 20150408 IATL President David Cleary - Karen Burgess - Former IATL President Broadas Spiveyacknowledges and honors those who have achieved a career of excellence through demonstrated skill and ability in jury trials, trials before the court and appellate practice. Members are engaged in civil practice on both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s side of the courtroom, and the trial of criminal cases.

The Academy invites only lawyers who have attained the highest level of advocacy. A comprehensive screening process identifies the most distinguished members of the trial bar by means of both peer and judicial review. Burgess has been evaluated by her colleagues and the judges in her jurisdiction and has been highly recommended by them as possessing these qualifications and characteristics.

Chartered in 1954, the Academy’s general purposes are to cultivate the science of jurisprudence, promote reforms in the law, facilitate the Administration of Justice, and elevate the standards of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession.

Winstead Adds New Associate to Austin Office

Winstead PC has added Scott Forrester Courtney Jr. as an associate to its Austin office.

Courtney represents clients on commercial litigation and intellectual property matters. Scott Courtney_2_resizeHe received his J.D. from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, graduating magna cum laude in May 2013.   Courtney was previously a litigation associate at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Dallas.

Austin Law Firms Get Behind World IP Day with Austin Event

Five Austin law firms are sponsoring the first local celebration of World IP Day with a free, public event at the LBJ Library on Tuesday, April 21.

The “Austin: Born and Raised” celebration will highlight the important role intellectual property plays in encouraging creativity in music and the arts as well as encouraging technological innovation in business.

Speakers include:

  • Brad Spies, Brand Development for SXSW
  • Lilly Turnquist, Brand Protection Manager for Kendra Scott
  • Jarrett McGehee, Director of Music Licensing for Mood Music
  • Katherine McCormack, Legal Counsel for Keller Williams.

World IP Day has been celebrated around the globe since 2000. This year’s worldwide theme is “Get up, Stand Up. For Music.”

“What better place to celebrate the important role intellectual property plays in encouraging creativity than in the Live Music Capital of the World,” said Bill Barber, a founding member of Pirkey Barber and past president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

Pirkey Barber is co-sponsoring the event along with Baker Botts; Fleckman & McGlynn; Norton Rose Fulbright; and Parker Highlander PLLC.

“Austin: Born and Raised” kicks off at 3 p.m. at the LBJ Library’s Brown Room with a reception to follow from 5:30 until 7:00 p.m.

Dykema to Combine with Texas-Based Cox Smith

Dykema, a leading national law firm, has announced it will combine with Cox Smith, a San Antonio-based firm with Austin offices.

The combination will give Dykema a significantly expanded presence in Texas, where Cox Smith is a leading firm with deep history. Dykema hopes the additional depth in key practices, coupled with the combined firm’s broader geographic reach, will enhance the range of services available to both firms’ clients.

The addition of Cox Smith’s 118 lawyers will give the combined firm more than 450 attorneys in 15 offices. In Texas, the firm will initially operate under the name Dykema Cox Smith. The combination, which takes effect May 1, will double the size of each firm’s Dallas presence, and San Antonio will become one of Dykema’s largest offices.

“We believe the combination with Dykema will allow us to better serve our clients by tapping into Dykema’s broad range of practices and national reach,” said Deborah Williamson, Managing Director of Cox Smith. “The more we learned about Dykema and its people, the more obvious it became that our firms were a compelling fit culturally and from a business standpoint. We have practice strengths that complement one another and allow us to better serve clients as a combined entity. And both of our firms emphasize and prioritize client service as a key differentiator.”

“This is the next step for Cox Smith and it’s the right move for us to make,” said Jamie Smith, Chairman of Cox Smith. “Many of our clients are expanding well outside of Texas and have told us our size and our geography limit our ability to expand with them. With this combination, our lawyers can compete for work over a wider geography and offer a broader range of services to existing firm clients. And the Dykema lawyers will fit well with our clients and markets — great lawyers, wonderful people, all very focused on achieving the client’s goals. This cultural fit will greatly benefit our clients as well as our attorneys.”

Deborah Williamson will serve on the firm’s Executive Board and Jamie Smith will serve as Dykema’s Vice Chair – Texas.

For Dykema, the combination also represents a natural next step. As a number of the firm’s clients had an increasing presence in Texas, Dykema opened its Dallas office in 2007 with four attorneys—and now has 27 attorneys in the state. The Texas economy has grown rapidly, attracting a number of corporate headquarters and increasing the demand for legal services. Although Dykema has expanded quickly to meet this demand, the combination with Cox Smith enhances the ability to service both existing and new clients in the region with increased visibility in Texas and the Southwest.

The combined firm will offer “sophisticated regional and national practices, including commonly shared strategic initiatives in middle market M&A transactions; energy; infrastructure; automotive; government policy; financial services litigation; health care; and data privacy and cybersecurity. It also gives Dykema clients access to Cox Smith’s attorneys in important industries including financial services; oil, gas and energy; and construction/manufacturing. Cox Smith’s clients gain access to important financial centers and industries beyond Texas borders. Both firms believe that the strong Texas economy demands greater depth to meet client expectations.”

Gardere Promotes Five New Partners, Including One in Austin

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP recently announced that five attorneys have been named partner, including Nanette K. Beaird in Austin.Beaird_Nan_media

“This outstanding group of attorneys has consistently demonstrated excellent legal skills, a commitment to community and professional organizations, and leadership capabilities,” said Gardere Chair Holland N. O’Neil. “They enhance Gardere’s commitment to providing our clients with the best possible service, and we are proud to welcome them to the Firm’s partnership.”

Beaird is a government affairs attorney in Gardere’s Austin office, representing national and international clients in all regulated industries before state agencies throughout Texas and beyond. In addition, she has extensive experience drafting legislation on behalf of clients. Ms. Beaird is a 1987 graduate of University of Virginia School of Law.

V&E Adds Former Top Texas Energy Regulator Barry Smitherman as Partner

Barry Smitherman, former chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, will join Vinson & Elkins effective April 1 as a partner in its Energy Regulatory practice.

Smitherman, who will practice in the firm’s Austin office, will focus on advising energy industry clients with matters pending before state and federal regulatory agencies throughout the United States and will support V&E’s energy transaction and litigation practices.

Having served for more than a decade on Texas’ top energy commissions, Smitherman has particular experience with initiatives such as electric transmission development, energy storage, renewable generation, and natural gas fracking and related oil and gas development issues.

Smitherman is the only person in Texas history to have served on both the RRC and the PUCT. In July 2011, Gov. Rick Perryappointed him to the RRC to serve an unexpired term, and he was later elected statewide for a two-year term in November 2012.

Early in his tenure, he was selected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the RRC, which oversees the oil, natural gas, coal mining, intrastate pipeline and local gas distribution industries in Texas.

Under Smitherman’s leadership, the agency executed a number of key initiatives, including the development of rules requiring disclosure of chemical ingredients and water volumes used to hydraulically fracture wells in Texas.

In addition, Smitherman led a successful effort by the agency to overhaul, for the first time in 30 years, its well construction requirements related to casing, cementing, drilling, well control and completions.

The RRC also created rules encouraging the recycling of hydraulic fracturing “flow-back fluids” and adopted disposal well rule amendments to address operations in areas of historical or future seismic activity.

During his chairmanship of the RRC, Barry also served two years as chair of the Gas Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, from 2013 through 2014.

Prior to his service with the RRC, Smitherman was a member of the PUCT from April 2004 through July 2011, and served as chairman of the agency for the last three and a half years of his tenure.

At the PUCT, Smitherman spearheaded the agency’s adoption and management of the 3,600-mile Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission line project, handling routing disputes and acting as the agency’s liaison with the Texas Legislature, service providers, and landowners.

While chairman, he also sat on the Board of Directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, served as Vice President of the Regional State Committee of the Southwest Power Pool, and served two terms on the U.S. Department of Energy Electricity Advisory Committee.

Before entering statewide public service, Smitherman spent 16 years as an investment banker. He held leadership positions with several firms including Lazard, The First Boston Corporation, J.P. Morgan Securities, and Banc One Capital Markets.


Pirkey Barber Named Best U.S. Firm for Trademark Contentious Work

Global publication Managing Intellectual Property has named Pirkey Barber PLLC as the Firm of the Year in the National Trademark Contentious category at its eighth annual North America Awards ceremony held recently in Washington, D.C.

Pirkey Barber was also selected as the Firm of the Year in the South for Trademark Contentious work, and was one of six finalists considered on the shortlist for the Firm of the Year in the South for Trademark Prosecution work.

Founding partner Bill Barber was one of the eight finalists for Texas Outstanding IP Litigator of the Year.

“We were humbled to be nominated along with the other firms on the shortlists, and are truly honored to have been selected for these awards,” said Steve Meleen, Managing Member of Pirkey Barber.

Pirkey Barber was previously recognized as the Firm of the Year in the South in the category of Trademark Prosecution in 2014 and in the category of Trademark Contentious in 2013.