Winstead Announces New Shareholders, One of Them in Austin

Winstead PC has announced the election of eight new shareholders, including Patrick Pearsall in the Austin office.

Pearsall practices in the areas of administrative and appellate law, with an emphasis on the representation of utilities and pipelines. Patrick’s administrative law practice includes representing clients in contested cases, rulemakings, and complaint proceedings before regulatory agencies including the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the Railroad Commission of Texas, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. His appellate experience includes briefing and orally arguing appeals and suits for judicial review of agency orders before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, and Texas Courts of Appeals, as well as filing amicus curiae briefs on legal issues of interest to clients. In addition, Patrick handles appeals arising out of general commercial litigation matters including product liability cases, insurance coverage disputes, and business transactions. Patrick also has extensive experience drafting and arguing dispositive motions, preparing and providing jury charge support, and providing legal support in complex class-action litigation.

After law school, Patrick served as law clerk (2004-2005) and staff attorney (2005-2007) for Justice Bea Ann Smith, Third Court of Appeals, Austin.

 

Austin Law Firm Issues Statement About Co-Founder’s Tragic Passing

Austin law firm Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr released the following statement about the tragic passing of its co-founder, Russ Munsch, who dies along with three other men in an airplane accident in Australia:

“It is with great sadness that we inform you our dear friend, colleague, and co-founder Russ Munsch passed away in a tragic plane crash in Melbourne, Australia yesterday. Russ was enjoying retirement, and doing what he loved almost more than practicing law – playing golf. Russ was a lawyer’s lawyer; one of the best of all time. During his nearly 40-year career, he worked on high-profile bankruptcy cases including Enron Corporation, Coho Energy Corporation, Northwest Airlines, and as bankruptcy counsel to Nelson Bunker Hunt in what is still considered the largest personal bankruptcy proceeding in history. Russ was a loving husband, father and friend, and he will be dearly missed. Until we learn more, we ask that you keep Russ’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Chadbourne & Parke and Norton Rose Fulbright to Combine

Chadbourne & Parke and Norton Rose Fulbright, which has dozens of attorneys in its Austin office, today announced that they will combine in the second quarter of 2017. The combination “significantly strengthens both firms’ client offerings and practice capabilities, particularly in the areas of energy and infrastructure, banking and corporate finance, project finance, bankruptcy and financial restructuring, litigation, dispute resolution and regulatory law,” according to the new entity.

Following the combination, the firm will have more than 1,000 lawyers in the US, including more than 300 lawyers in New York alone. The global firm will comprise more than 4,000 lawyers in 58 offices spanning 32 countries.

Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted to unite Norton Rose Fulbright with Chadbourne & Parke to create a global law firm that few can match. Chadbourne has a proud history, and is known for its world class practices in energy, infrastructure, banking and finance. Joining forces with our new colleagues, we can offer our clients significant new capabilities in New York and Washington, DC. We will benefit from new offices in Mexico City, São Paulo and Istanbul, and we will be able to offer our clients expanded capabilities in London, Dubai, Latin America and other key markets.”

Andrew Giaccia, Chadbourne & Parke’s Managing Partner, commented:

“Coming together will give us the ultimate advantage of offering superior legal service in virtually all of the world’s key business and financial centers. Our firms share a strategic vision and client focus, and we have highly complementary practice and industry strengths. Following the combination, our global offerings will be virtually unrivalled in many areas, from energy and infrastructure to finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and regulatory work.”

Daryl Lansdale, Norton Rose Fulbright’s US Managing Partner, said:

“We are excited to be growing our presence in New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, which, along with Texas, are key markets in the US. Our combination with Chadbourne substantially increases the depth and breadth of our offerings while preserving our unique, collegial culture. Our client service focus remains unchanged, and our ability to meet our clients’ needs has greatly expanded.”

Norton Rose Fulbright differentiated itself in the legal marketplace by becoming the first global law firm to be organized by industry sector, possessing world-class experience in financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Following the combination, the global firm will be known as Norton Rose Fulbright.

Chris Schlag Joins Winstead as Associate

Winstead PC has announced that Chris Schlag has joined the firm’s Environmental Law and Public & Regulatory Law Practice Groups as an associate.

Schlag’s practice includes all areas of environmental, health and safety law, including regulatory compliance, dispute resolution and litigation. She advises clients on environmental health and safety compliance issues and review and audit of compliance related programs. Schlag also represents clients before federal and state enforcement agencies and matters involving Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Notice of Violations and Whistleblower Complaints. Her experience includes addressing regulatory investigations arising from occupational accidents, routine regulatory inspections and employee complaints.

Schlag’s litigation practice is focused on regulatory compliance, administrative law, contract interpretation, property disputes, insurance coverage and employment law matters, advising many industries, including chemical, construction, manufacturing and energy, on compliance with regulatory requirements under EPA, OSHA, DOT, USDA and state and local authorities.

Schlag received her J.D., cum laude, from University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2014. She holds a Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety & Environmental Management.

Allensworth & Porter Promotes Attorney to Partner, Makes Other Announcements

Allensworth & Porter has promoted Will W. Allensworth to partner.

Allensworth joined the firm after graduating from UT Law with honors in 2010. He will continue to specialize in construction law with a particular emphasis on payment claims, design and construction defect litigation, professional liability and registration, and appellate work.

The firm also announced that Tyler T. O’Halloran and Monte F. James, Jr. have joined the firm as associates. O’Halloran will practice primarily in construction and commercial litigation, while James will focus on contract drafting and negotiation.

In addition, partners Joe R. Basham, Travis W. Brown, and Will W. Allensworth recently became Board Certified® in Construction Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, an honor reserved for those who “have proven themselves as specialists in construction law by showing substantial, relevant experience in the field, and passing an exam testing expertise and special competence in construction law.”

 

Corporate Attorney Bill Broome Joins Dickinson Wright’s Austin Office

Dickinson Wright PLLC has announced that Attorney William (Bill) Broome has joined the firm’s Austin office as Of Counsel.

Broome focuses his practice on corporate law. He is experienced in a wide variety of corporate transactional work, both public and private, including domestic and international mergers & acquisitions, venture capital investments and other financings and securities offerings, technology transactions, and strategic partnerships. He also counsels emerging companies from formation through growth stages and advises clients of all kinds on corporate governance issues, internal affairs, and securities law compliance.

Broome was previously an associate with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP in San Francisco.

He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Texas Pro-Business Group Points to Similarities Bewteen Senate Bill 6 and NC law and Cost to Business

(What follows is a press release from the Texas Association of Business)

Keep Texas Open for Business strongly opposed Senate Bill 6, calling out the just-filed “Texas Privacy Act,” as discriminatory, anti-business, and unnecessary legislation that is poised to have an immediate and detrimental impact on Texas’ economy. The bill is strikingly similar to North Carolina’s HB 2 law. Both pieces of legislation ban transgender people from using public school, university, and government building restrooms, and prohibit municipalities from passing transgender-inclusive public accommodations policies. The North Carolina law has cost the state nearly one billion dollars in lost economic revenue in just under 10 months.

“All Texans care deeply about safety and privacy, but Senate Bill 6 isn’t about either of those things,” said Chris Wallace, President of the Texas Association of Business (TAB), which leads the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition. “Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory and wholly unnecessary legislation that, if passed, could cost Texas as much as $8.5 billion in GDP and the loss of more than 185,000 jobs in the first year alone.”

“Our communities, our families and businesses across this state face a far more uncertain future if this kind of unnecessary regulation is enacted here. We cannot afford the real human consequences and staggering economic impact of slamming the door on the Texas’ history of openness, competitiveness, economic opportunity and innovation,” added Wallace.

Supporters of SB 6 claim its “unique to Texas”, but the legislation is fundamentally identical to the bathroom and municipal non-discrimination provisions in North Carolina’s HB 2. That law has resulted in companies like PayPal, Deutsche Bank and CoStar pulling jobs and planned investments from the state. Performers and sporting events also have fled North Carolina in the wake of HB 2 – with the NBA, NCAA, and ACC all pulling major championship events that were poised to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies.

“The so-called Texas Privacy Act won’t make restrooms any safer for men, women and children, and it will do far more harm to them than good. This legislation will needlessly jeopardize jobs, investment, innovation and tax revenue for our state, and it sullies our reputation as an open, inclusive and welcoming state. It is also wholly unenforceable and unsupported by any public safety evidence, and will create situations that invade the privacy of Texans from all walks of life.”

Wallace said that Keep Texas Open for Business and Texas Association of Business would welcome the opportunity to discuss meaningful ways the business community could work with state leaders to address serious, well-documented personal and public safety concerns like online predators, online privacy, and campus safety, while ensuring Texas does not enact discriminatory legislation that will spark statewide boycotts.

Former Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody Attorneys Start Their Own Law Firm

Austin-based lawyers Thomas Queen, Paul Saenz and Andrea Schutz have announced the formation of their new law firm, Queen Saenz + Schutz PLLC, which will focus on corporate and business law, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and commercial and technology transactions. The firm’s office is located at 327 Congress Ave., Suite 220, in the heart of downtown Austin.

Queen, Saenz and Schutz leave the Austin firm of Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, where they were shareholders and practiced for a combined 37 years. Each attorney specializes in a different but complementary aspect of business law, positioning their new firm as a uniquely well-rounded resource for businesses. The goal of QS+S is to serve “as a trusted advisor through every stage of a business’s life cycle.”

Queen Saenz + Schutz serves clients locally, statewide and nationally. For more information, visit www.qsps-law.com.

Additional background on the founding partners:

Thomas Queen: Thomas concentrates his practice in the areas of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), corporate finance and private equity. He has represented private equity funds, strategic buyers and sellers, family offices and entrepreneurs in connection with more than 50 M&A or investment transactions with values between $5 million and $500 million. Thomas was recently selected by The Best Lawyers in America® as 2017 Austin Lawyer of the Year for Corporate Law.

Paul Saenz: Paul practices corporate and business law with an emphasis on representing companies in complex commercial and technology transactions. He helps structure, draft and negotiate a wide variety of contracts, ranging from technology development, licensing and commercialization to procurement and supply chain matters. He also serves in the role of general counsel for many of his clients and provides representation on a wide range of corporate matters.

Andrea Schutz: Andrea’s practice includes corporate finance and business transactions with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments, debt financings, fund formation, and general business counseling and governance matters. She has represented companies—both small and large—and investors in more than 30 mergers and acquisitions and complex financing transactions. She also regularly serves as outside general counsel for private companies on a variety of governance and day-to-day legal issues.

Waller Elevates Austin Attorney to Partner

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, a leading provider of legal services to the healthcare, financial services, technology, retail and hospitality industries, has elected 12 new partners, including Cleveland R. Burke in its Austin office.

Cleveland R. Burke, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, represents healthcare providers, banks and financial institutions, energy companies and other corporate clients and individuals in bankruptcy and commercial litigation. His experience includes the representation of creditors, creditors’ committees, trustees, debtors, and other parties in bankruptcy and adversary proceedings. Burke also represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of civil lawsuits related to contracts, real estate, business torts and debt collection. His experience includes all stages of trial and appellate litigation in both federal and state courts. Burke served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Will Garwood in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He earned his J.D. in 2008 with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law and graduated magna cum laude from Duke University in 2001.

Austin Bar Foundation’s Annual Fundraising Gala – The Awards and Aftermath

More than 500 members of Austin’s legal community packed the Four Seasons Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, for the Austin Bar Foundation’s 14th annual Gala.  The mission of the Austin Bar Foundation is to support and expand the provision of legal-related charitable and educational programs and services in Central Texas by organizing and marshaling the resources and abilities of the Austin Bar Association and its members. 

(L-R) Dirk Jordan, Martha Smiley, Austin Bar President Leslie Dippel, Jo Ann Merica, Tony Nelson and David Hilgers.

The Great Gatsby-themed evening transported guests to the Roaring 20’s, with many at the black-tie event decked out in period costume. In addition to enjoying cocktails, dinner, and dancing, attendees generously raised funds by purchasing “Grab for Good” bags, buying raffle tickets for a variety of exclusive gift baskets, and bidding on luxurious live auction items.  

The Gala benefitted the Austin Bar Foundation’s many charitable and partner programs, including Austin Adoption Day, the Justice Mack Kidd Fund, Free Legal Advice Clinics for Veterans, the Self-Represented Litigant Project, the Diversity Fellowship Program and scholarships for LGBT law students in Texas.  Visit austinbar.org/foundation/programs for more information on these and other programs supported by the Austin Bar Foundation

During the evening, five outstanding attorneys were honored for their immense contributions to Austin’s legal community, and the community at large.  The awards and award recipients were:

The Distinguished Lawyer Award was presented to Martha Smiley and David Hilgers. This award recognizes the dedication and hard work of two attorneys who have practiced law for 30 years or more and have significantly contributed to the legal profession and the greater community. 

Martha Smiley
As an attorney, founding team member and executive of Grande Communications, civic volunteer, and political activist, Martha Smiley has been deeply engaged in the Austin community for more than 40 years. She began her career in the State Attorney General’s Office and then served as Regional Counsel to the Environmental Protection Agency. She later joined Steve Bickerstaff and Bob Heath, building the firm Bickerstaff, Heath and Smiley. Smiley’s legal career drew her to entrepreneurial enterprises for more than a decade before returning to private practice. She now serves as Counsel to the firm Enoch Kever, PLLC. Smiley was appointed to The University of Texas Board of Regents, and the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission by Governor Ann Richards. She has been an avid Longhorn supporter and fan having served on the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Women, as Chair of the University of Texas Longhorn Foundation, on the Advisory Board of the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, and as a Founder of the Center for Women in the Law. She has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions for her dedication to community leadership and service.

 

David Hilgers

Currently a partner at Husch Blackwell, David Hilgers has been practicing law in Austin for over 40 years. An expert in health care law, he has been a longtime leader in the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section, including serving as section chair. Committed to legal aid since the 1980s, he has served on and chaired the boards of both the Travis County Legal Aid Society and the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.  He was recently appointed to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. Hilgers has long been involved in the community sup-porting organizations such as Austin Community Nursery Schools, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America Western Regional Council. He served on Planned Parenthood of Texas Capital Region’s Board of Directors and was president in 2004. He was on the national board for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic as well as the local board, where he served as chair from 1985 to 1987. Currently, he is on the board of Patient Privacy Rights.

The David H. Walter Community Excellence Award was given to Jo Ann Merica. This award is presented to an attorney or judge who has recently made a significant impact in the community and, at the same time, raised the profile of the legal profession

Jo Ann Merica

A partner in McGinnis Lochridge, Jo Ann Merica’s career reflects her steadfast commitment to professional leadership and com-munity service. She has served as President of the Austin Young Lawyers Association, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, and the Austin Bar Association where she implemented a wide range of public service projects designed to assist victims of domestic violence, educate school children about the law, and provide legal services to the disadvantaged and poor. Merica has served as Trust-ee of the Texas Bar Foundation. She recently served as Chair of Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, established by the State Bar of Texas to provide pro bono advice clinics to serve Texas veterans. In addition, she has served as co-chair of the Austin Bar Association’s Free Legal Advice Clinic for Veterans, where she often volunteers. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law since 1993 and regularly takes a variety of pro bono cases.

 

The Larry F. York Mentoring Award, given to Dirk Jordan, goes to a lawyer or judge who has demonstrated exceptional skill and generosity in mentoring younger members of the bar, practiced law for at least ten years, and served as a role model and counselor to other lawyers.

Dirk Jordan

Dirk Jordan, a solo practitioner, began his career as a clerk for the Hon. Joseph Hart at the Travis County District Court, and as an intern for the Hon. Nathan Hecht at the Texas Supreme Court. He then joined the Austin office of Strasburger and Price where he became partner before forming the Jordan Law Firm. His role as mentor has developed through his longtime involvement in the Inns of Court and as a speaker and educator. He was a member of the Robert Calvert Inns of Court, before helping form the Lloyd Lochridge Inns of Court in 2009, where he served as president. He currently serves on the executive committee as Counselor. In 2014, he became the first Austin member to serve on the Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court Foundation. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas School of Law and is a frequent speaker and presenter at State Bar CLE, various law schools in Texas, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at conferences worldwide.

The Joseph C. Parker Jr. Diversity Award was given to Tony Nelson.  This award was named in honor of Joseph C. Parker Jr., the first African-American president of the Austin Bar Association.  Blazing the trail for minority lawyers who followed in his footsteps, Parker has spent his life and work championing the equal, ethical, and fair treatment of all people, and raising awareness of the need to diversify our community.  This award honors a firm or an individual who has led the way in bringing diversity to Austin’s legal community and who exemplifies all that Parker stands for.

Tony Nelson

Tony Nelson has spent his twenty–nine year legal career focused on the representation of those who serve the citizens of the State of Texas—representing State, County and Local Governmental Entities, elected officials, and government employees in litigation matters in federal and state courts across the state. His legal career began as an Assistant Attorney General in the Law Enforcement Division, where he served for five years. Currently, he serves as the Federal Court Litigation Team Leader for the Travis County Attorney’s Office. Nelson’s community involvement includes the Austin Black Lawyers Association, as a member and former officer, and serving as co-chair of the Austin Bar Association’s Diversity Committee since 2008. His service on the Diversity Committee led to the development of the Austin Bar’s Diversity Fellowship Program, which provides rising second year minority law students a unique clerkship experience, splitting their summer between working for Travis County District and County Court at Law Judges, and a participating private sector law firm.