Members of Austin Bar, Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Endorse Candidates for Travis County District Judge, District Attorney, and Sheriff

In a private preference poll, members of the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association rated 17 candidates in five Travis County races who will appear on the ballot in the March primary. The purpose of the 2016 Austin Bar Preference Poll is to give the general public an opportunity to see how local attorneys evaluate their colleagues in the legal community.  The results are strictly the opinions of the individual attorneys returning their ballots and are not intended as an endorsement of any candidate or candidates by either the Austin Bar Association, ACDLA, or any affiliated organization.

Contested judicial races as well as candidates for District Attorney and Sherriff were included in the preference poll. For each race, Austin Bar and ACDLA members were asked to indicate which candidate they believed was best qualified to serve in the position for which he or she was running. Members did not have to vote in every race. Members cast their votes online through Ballot Box, an online polling system. Of the 3,851 eligible voters, 774 (20 percent) participated in the poll.

Those candidates selected as best qualified in the 2016 Austin Bar Preference Poll are:

Travis County District Judge, 345th Judicial District – Jan Soifer

Travis County District Judge, 427th Judicial District – Judge Jim Coronado

Travis County District Judge, 450th Judicial District –Brad Urrutia

Travis County District Attorney – Margaret Moore

Travis County Sherriff – Sally Hernandez

Is the Austin Police Department the Most Racist in the Country? Maybe

The Peaceful Streets Project recently addressed the David Joseph shooting with some harsh words, which calls into question the culpability of the Austin Police Department, perhaps deservedly.

What follows are the first three paragraphs of the post:

“On Monday, February 8, 2016, Austin Police officer Geoffrey Freeman shot and killed 17-year old David Joseph. According to Asst. Chief Brian Manley, young Mr. Joseph was naked, running toward the officer, and refusing to obey the officer’s orders, causing Officer Freeman to shoot him, in spite of the fact that APD officers are usually issued Tasers, pepper-spray, and batons, and given training in hand-to-hand combat as part of their academy training.

“We, in the Peaceful Streets Project remember the outcry after the 2013 APD shooting of Larry Jackson Jr., ‘Don’t run from the police, and you won’t get shot.’ Apparently, running toward the police isn’t much better, or for that matter, and if the death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo. is any indication, neither is kneeling down with your hands in the air.

“As the name, ‘Peaceful Streets’ would imply, we seek peaceful solutions to the problem of APD violence and brutality, but it seems to be of no avail. Several of us have trusted in the system, and spoken for our allotted three minutes to the Austin City Council, the Public Safety Commission, and the Citizens’ Review Panel, only to be ignored by the members of all three panels. Our members marched and protested in a Rally Against Police Brutality, only to be tackled, tased, pepper-sprayed, threatened with shotguns, and arrested by the Austin Police.”

To ready the full post, go here:

General Counsel at Austin Technology Company Interviewed in Texas Monthly

Texas Lawyer recently interviewed Derek Willis, secretary and general counsel for Volusion Inc., an Austin-based software company, for a feature. The magazine asked him questions about best practices when dealing with outside counsel. The interview follows here:

Tinoco and Flores Merge to Provide Immigration Legal Services

Attorneys J. Francisco Tinoco and Mario Flores have merged legal specializations to create Tinoco, Flores & Asociados, an immigration law firm with two primary locations in Austin and McAllen.

Catering to a specific clientele, the firm consists of bilingual lawyers who speak fluent English and Spanish, offering a personalized approach for clients who may need the assistance of a translator.

Practice areas include: work visas, investor visas, fiancée visas, permanent residence citizenship, delayed action, student, tourist and business visas, and other specializations.

The attorneys at the firm are entitled to practice in all subjects at the local and federal level throughout Mexico; in New York, Texas, and Washington, DC at the state level; and federal level issues throughout the United States.

The  Austin location was opened last month.

Texas State Securities Board Publishes Guide about Strategies for Investing Wisely and Avoiding Finanial Fraud

The Austin-based Texas State Securities Board has published its 2016 edition of the Texas Investor Guide: Strategies for Investing Wisely and Avoiding Financial Fraud. The publication has been substantially revised and expanded to help investors – beginning and more experienced – understand the time-tested principles of investing and how to avoid fraud and inappropriate investments.

With the gradual decline of traditional pensions, and the possibility that Social Security may increasingly replace less of the income a retiree earned while working, investors today have more responsibility than ever for achieving their financial goals.

Making investment decisions, however, is difficult in this time of complex investment products, heavily promoted “surefire” strategies, and media commentaries that can make investing feel like a frenetic game.

The Investor Guide cuts through financial clutter with jargon-free explanations of:

  • Investing for growth – although investing always carries risk, it’s hard to achieve your financial goals otherwise;
  • The basics of mutual funds, including target date funds, and how to invest in them;
  • Asset classes such as stocks, bonds, CDs, real estate, and cash, and how they generally differ in risk and performance;
  • The balance between risk and return and strategies to minimize – not eliminate – risk;
  • Understanding and controlling the cost of investments;
  • Putting together the pieces of a secure retirement, including IRAs, 401(k)s, and knowing the strategies of claiming Social Security benefits;
  • Avoiding scams and high-risk investments, complete with ripped-from-our case-files examples of fraud; and
  • Increasing the odds of finding a financial professional you can trust.

Additionally, there are now articles available that amplify and expand upon the topics in the Investor Guide.

The State Securities Board provides other print and online publications for the investing public, as well as a list of the top investor resources from state and federal entities.

Print copies of the Investor Guide are available on request. Contact Robert Elder, Communications & Investor Education Coordinator, at

Austin Bar Celebrates Its Champions at Annual Gala

More than 500 members of Austin’s legal community packed the Four Seasons Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, for the Austin Bar Foundation’s 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) Judge Orlinda Naranjo; Thomas Ausley; Karen R. Johnson; Austin Bar President, Judge Eric Shepperd;  David Sheppard; and Judge Lora Livingston.

(L-R) Judge Orlinda Naranjo; Thomas Ausley; Karen R. Johnson; Austin Bar President, Judge Eric Shepperd; David Sheppard; and Judge Lora Livingston.

The theme Fire and Ice created a sophisticated ambiance for guests who enjoyed dinner and dancing, while raising funds through both a silent and live auction to help fund a variety of community service projects.  These were the major beneficiaries of the event:

  • Free Legal Advice Clinic for Veterans: The Austin Bar hosts a monthly legal clinic for military veterans and their families. Since June of 2010, Austin Bar attorneys have helped more than 2,300 veterans with a wide variety of legal issues.  This year, the program was expanded beyond Travis County through a grant by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. The Free Legal Advice Clinic for Veterans will be offered soon in Williamson County, with other surrounding counties soon to follow.
  • Austin Bar in Action’s Self-Represented Litigant Project: Many pro se litigants can’t afford the services of an attorney but also can’t qualify for free legal aid. These are the working poor of Travis County. All pro-se litigants are now required to go to the Travis County Self Help Center before they are allowed in court. Due to this mandate, the Self Help Center has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help. In response to this overwhelming need, the Austin Bar Foundation created this program to provide assistance for self-represented litigants in the uncontested civil docket. Volunteer attorneys are available in the Self Help Center to answer questions and help fill out forms. They also assist with divorces, obtaining occupational driver’s licenses, name changes and landlord/tenant issues. Additionally, a volunteer attorney staffs the uncontested docket courtroom to help the litigants through the courtroom process.

During the evening, five outstanding attorneys and judges 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 Karen R. Johnson and David A. Sheppard. 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.

The David H. Walter Community Excellence Award was given to Judge Orlinda Naranjo.  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

The Larry F. York Mentoring Award, given to Thomas L. Ausley, 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.

The Joseph C. Parker Jr. Diversity Award was given to Judge Lora J. Livingston.  This inaugural 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.

The award winner’s biographies are as follows:

Karen R. Johnson – Distinguished Lawyer Award
An attorney, a former briefing attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, and the holder of the Distinguished Law Graduate Award of St. Mary’s University School of Law Alumni Association, Karen John­son has been recognized for her management and leadership skills in several important fields. She is currently the CEO/President of KRJ Resources.

She was elected the first woman president of the Travis County Bar Association and was elected to the State Bar Board of Direc­tors, serving on the Executive Committee. She was also the first woman Executive Director of the State Bar of Texas. Johnson was a special assistant in the Texas Governor’s office and was Assistant Comptroller for Legal Services in the State Comptroller’s office for Bob Bullock. She is a former Texas Assistant Attorney General.

She served as president of Entergy, Texas and just concluded her term with the Electric Power Research Institute’s Advisory Board headquartered in California. She is a former member of the Ener­gy Future Holdings Advisory Board.

She has served on the Governor’s Business Council. The State Bar has honored Johnson many times. She has also been rec­ognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fort Worth Independent School District. Johnson is the holder of the Out­standing Woman of the Year award from the Executive Woman in State Government and Volunteer Extraordinaire award from the Junior League of Austin. The Austin Business Journal honored her as a winner of the Profiles in Power Award.

Johnson recently finished her term as Chair of the Texas Society of Association Executives. As of 2011 she
was named the 12th President of The Austin Club, serving previously on the Executive Committee. She ended her term in 2015. She was Chief Execu­tive of Power Across Texas and now serves on the board. In 2015, she was elected to the Texas State History Museum Foundation board. Currently she serves on a statewide board as Vice Chair of the Association of Women in Energy. Nationally, she serves on the Global Impact Board of Directors and is a past member of the CARE Board of Directors.

David A. Sheppard– Distinguished Lawyer Award

Since obtaining his law license in 1974, David Sheppard’s devo­tion to his profession and his community has led him to serve in multiple capacities for a variety of professional and community service organizations, receiving multiple awards in recognition of his contributions. In keeping with these recognitions, he enjoys an impeccable reputation for integrity and ability with both prose­cutors and the judiciary. He has been especially gratified by the freedom he has helped win for wrongfully convicted inmates, in­cluding non-DNA exoneration, through the Texas Center for Actual Innocence, which he helped found.

He is board certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a fellow in the American College of Trial Law­yers. He is a founding member and former president of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court, and a founding member of the Lloyd Lochridge American Inn of Court. He served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law from 1985 – 2011.

He has an extensive list of awards and accomplishments, receiving the first annual Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award from the Austin Young Lawyer’s Association and the Professional­ism Award from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Austin Bar Association. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Center for the Judiciary

He is a Founding Life Fellow of the Austin Bar Foundation, a mem­ber of the Texas Bar Foundation, and was the Professional Enhance­ment Committee Chair for the State Bar of Texas. A founding mem­ber and director of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association, he has also been the chair of the Travis County Bar Association’s Criminal Law and Procedure Section. He has served as the chair of the Review Committee for the Capital Area Private Defender’s Service (CAPDS) and as president of the Central Texas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He served on the Admissions Commit­tee and as chairman of the Merit Selection Panel for Selection of Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas. He was director, associate director, and chairman of the Legislative Committee for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Judge Orlinda Naranjo – David H. Walter Community Excellence Award

Judge Orlinda Naranjo became Judge of Travis County Court at Law No. 2 in 1996, before being elected to the 419th District Court in 2006. Her vast professional and community involvement includes being appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to serve on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Texas Ju­dicial Council for which she has served on numerous committees and has chaired the Juvenile Justice Committee in 2012. She was appointed to serve as the Texas Judicial Liaison to the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas’ Standing Committee on Jury Service. Elected District Director of the National Association of Women Judges in 2011, she coordinated the annual Color of Justice program in Texas and Oklahoma which educates high-school students about careers in law and encourages them to pursue such careers.

Judge Naranjo has planned and presided over Dating Vio­lence/DUI Mock Trials for over 500 students in nine Travis County schools since 2002. This program is now being implemented in Hays County.

Through her involvement in the Robert W. Calvert Chapter of the American Inns of Court, she developed the award-winning Mento­ring A Student (MAS) program for students at Travis High School.

She is co-chair of the annual Do The Write Thing anti-violence program which provides 7th and 8th grade students the opportu­nity to examine the effects of violence in their lives.

As a board member of Con Mi Madre, she works to increase the representation of Hispanic women in post-secondary education by providing comprehensive educational and social support services to 6th through 12th grade Hispanic girls and their mothers. She is also involved in the Teen-Parent Mentorship program of the Hispan­ic Women’s Network of Texas. She serves on Advisory Committees for the Mexic Arte Museum and the Junior League of Austin.

She was recently named a Fab Five Honoree by the Seedling Foundation for her extraordinary work in making a difference in the lives of at-risk children in Central Texas.

Thomas L. Ausley – Larry F. York Mentoring Award

Tom Ausley is the founding partner of Ausley, Algert, Robertson & Flores. He began practicing law in 1968 and was board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1980.

Ausley is highly respected by peers and judges alike and has the reputation of having unwavering integrity. In 2013, he was be­stowed the prestigious Sam Emison Award by the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists (TAFLS) in recognition of his significant contributions to the practice of family law. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a Fellow in the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For the past 25 years, he has been named in The Best Lawyers in America, Family Law Section. Best Lawyers also selected him as 2009 Lawyer of the Year in Family Law-Austin. Since 2003, Texas Monthly Mag­azine has recognized Ausley as a Texas Super Lawyer. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Lawyer Award from the Austin Bar Association. He is past chair of the Family Law Council of the State Bar of Texas.

Ausley is a master litigator. In 2000, he chose to train in the collaborative-law process as well, to provide an additional option to his clients to resolve their disputes. Ausley’s decades in the practice of family law as well as his practical life experience enable him to help his clients navigate their legal disputes without destroying relationships with children and others.

Judge Lora J. Livingston – The Joseph C. Parker Jr. Diversity Award

Judge Lora Livingston became an Associate Judge for the District Courts of Travis County in 1995 and Judge of the 261st District Court in 1999. She is the first African-American woman to serve on a district court in Travis County where she currently serves as the Local Administrative Judge.

She has served on numerous boards including the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, Texas Access to Justice Commission, the National Center on Women and Family Law, the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Texas Center for the Judiciary. She is a member of the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the National Association of Women Judges. She has served as chair on ABA committees and is a member of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the ABA Judicial Division. She has also served on committees in state and local bar associations, including the Austin Bar where she has been instrumental in the growth and development of the Diversity Fellowship Program, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, and the Travis County Women Lawyers Association.

She has served on the Board of Volunteer Legal Services and was the 2015 Chair of And Justice for All: An ABA Day of Service, a Na­tional Pro Bono Celebration. She helped establish the Travis County Self Help Center for self-represented litigants and she led the effort to adopt a language-access plan in the civil courts.

She has received many awards including the Outstanding Attorney Award from the TCWLA, the Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Champion Award, and the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foun­dation Harold Kleinman Award. She was a two-time recipient of the Texas Center for the Judiciary Exemplary Judicial Faculty Award. She was awarded the Nancy Garms Memorial Award by the Law Focused Education Division of the State Bar of Texas. She received the Lotus Award from the Asian Family Support Services of Austin in recognition of her work ensuring access to justice for victims of domestic violence, and the National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award.


Austin Attorney Kevin Terrazas Earns Board Certification in Civil Appellate Law

Trial and appellate lawyer Kevin Terrazas of the Austin, Texas-based litigation firm Weisbart Springer Hayes LLP has been Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The legal specialization program certifies qualified Texas attorneys in 22 specific areas of law. AttorneysKevin_Terrazas_Web who are Board Certified must:

  • Be licensed for at least five years;
  • Devote a required percentage of practice to a specialty area for at least three years;
  • Attend continuing education seminars;
  • Pass an evaluation by fellow lawyers and judges; and
  • Pass a six-hour written examination.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Kevin and a testament to his commitment to providing the highest level of trial and appellate advocacy for clients,” says Weisbart Springer Hayes partner Sara Janes, who leads the firm’s appellate practice along with Terrazas.

A trial and appellate lawyer, Terrazas joined the firm in 2013 after previously working as a partner in the Austin office of Yetter Coleman LLP. He has represented clients in a variety of disputes involving intellectual property, antitrust, employment, contracts, torts and constitutional law.

Waller Adds 13 Attorneys from Taube Summers in Austin

The lawyers from Taube Summers Harrison Taylor Meinzer Brown, LLP, a bankruptcy and civil litigation boutique firm in Austin, have joined Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, a provider of legal services to the healthcare, financial services, technology, retail and hospitality industries.

Thirteen trial attorneys have joined Waller’s Austin office which the firm opened in 2012. The attorneys are:

Eric J. Taube – focuses on complex commercial and business litigation; bankruptcy restructuring and litigation; securities litigation; real estate litigation; employment law; and fiduciary litigation. Taube earned his J.D., cum laude, in 1983 from the University of Houston Law Center and his B.A. in 1979 from Vanderbilt University. Before forming Taube Summers, Taube was a partner at Liddell Sapp in Austin and Houston.

Rick Harrison – focuses on complex commercial litigation; estate and trust litigation; intellectual property disputes, professional malpractice cases; employment law; and general civil litigation. Harrison earned his J.D. in 1968 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.B.A. in 1966 from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Taube Summers, Harrison was a partner at Fritz, Byrne, Head & Harrison, LLP in Austin and also served as the head of the litigation section in the Austin office of Jones Day.

Mark C. Taylor – focuses on bankruptcy, restructuring, creditors’ rights and collections; complex commercial litigation and business torts; appellate law and general civil litigation. Taylor earned his J.D. in 1987 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.A. in 1984 from Rice University. Before joining Taube Summers, Taylor practiced at Liddell Sapp.

Neal Meinzer – focuses on construction litigation; creditors’ rights and collections; complex commercial litigation and business torts; and general civil litigation. Meinzer earned his J.D. in 1996 from St. Mary’s School of Law and his B.A. in 1992 from the University of Texas at Austin.

Kevin Brown – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; entertainment law and intellectual property litigation; employment law; and general civil litigation; Brown earned his J.D. in 1998 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.A., cum laude, in 1995 from Northwestern University. Before joining Taube Summers, Brown was an associate with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Pryor Cashman LLP and a partner with Fritz, Byrne, Head & Harrison, LLP in Austin.

Alex King – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; employment law; and general civil litigation. King earned her J.D. in 2004 from Harvard Law School and her B.B.A, magna cum laude, in 2001 from the University of Texas at El Paso. Before joining Taube Summers, King was a partner at Fritz, Byrne, Head & Harrison, LLP in Austin and an associate with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York.

Paul Matula – focuses on commercial landlord and tenant disputes; construction litigation; creditors’ rights and collections; employment law and general civil litigation; Matula earned his J.D. in 1990 from the University of Texas School of Law and his Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1987 from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Taube Summers, Matula served for nine years as Assistant Attorney General in the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Jamie McGonigal – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; estate and trust litigation; securities litigation; and general civil litigation. McGonigal earned her J.D., with honors, in 1998 from the University of Texas School of Law and her B.A., magna cum laude, in 1995 from Texas Tech University.

Morris D. Weiss – focuses on bankruptcy; restructuring, and creditors’ rights and collections; and complex commercial litigation and business torts. Weiss earned his J.D. in 1985 from South Texas College of Law and his B.S. in 1981 from Babson College. Before joining Taube Summers, Weiss was Managing Director of Tejas Securities Group, Inc., Senior Vice President and General Counsel of National Bancshares Corporation of Texas, and a partner with Weil Gotshal and Manges LLP.

Christopher G. Bradley – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; bankruptcy, restructuring, creditors’ rights and collections; securities litigation; and appellate law. Bradley earned his J.D., magna cum laude, in 2007 and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies in 2008 from New York University School of Law. He holds a Master’s degree (2003) and a Doctorate (2008) in English Literature from Oxford University. Bradley earned his B.A., summa cum laude, in 2001 from Princeton University. Before joining Taube Summers, Bradley was a Judicial Law Clerk in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Texas and an associate with Weil Gotshal and Manges LLP.

Cleveland R. Burke – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; bankruptcy, restructuring, creditors’ rights and collections; and appellate law. Burke earned his J.D., with high honors, in 2008 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.A., magna cum laude, in 2001 from Duke University. Before joining Taube Summers, Burke was an associate with Thompson & Knight LLP.

Rola Daaboul – focuses on commercial landlord and tenant disputes; construction litigation; entertainment law; intellectual property litigation; professional malpractice cases; and securities litigation. Daaboul earned her J.D. in 2010 from South Texas College of Law and her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Taube Summers, Daaboul practiced at Reed & Scardino LLP in Austin.

Andrew Preston Vickers – focuses on complex commercial litigation and business torts; and general civil litigation. He earned his J.D. in 2012 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.A. in 2008 from the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Small Firms and Tax Issues – Meals & Entertainment What Qualifies as a Deductible Expense?

(Editors Note: Austin-based B2 Management and Consulting recently announed the hiring of Steve MacPherson, a CPA, to its consulting team. Shortly thereafter, MacPherson offered the following insights to small law firms about an important tax issue.)

This document is intended to be a brief summary of some of the IRS rules related to meal and entertainment (M&E) expenses you may incur in the course of doing business. Some typical examples of M&E expenses are given below, as well as a suggested process for how you may want to track these expenses in your accounting records.


What qualifies as deductible “meals”?

Meals include amounts spent for food + beverages + taxes + related tips. Meals will fall into one of two categories.

  • Meals that are related to business travel  

In order for travel meals to be deductible, the travel must be typically overnight or for a length of time that would reasonably require you to stop for substantial rest or sleep. Some limitations apply. You cannot deduct the cost of lavish or extravagant meals. If the bill does not separately state the cost of meals, you must reasonably allocate the cost of meals separately from lodging or other costs.

  • Meals that are for business entertainment

You may be able to deduct business related entertainment meal expenses you have for entertaining a client, customer or employee. To qualify as a business entertainment meal, the meal must meet the rules and definitions for deductible entertainment. See the discussion below:

What qualifies as deductible “entertainment” expenses?

Entertainment includes any activity generally considered to provide entertainment, amusement, or recreation. Examples include entertaining guests at nightclubs, theaters, social and sporting events. Entertainment includes the cost of a meal you provide to a customer, client or employee, whether the meal is a part of other entertainment or by itself. Examples of meals that are considered entertainment include taking a client to lunch after a business meeting, lunch with an employee to discuss a performance review, and company picnics.

For entertainment costs (and meals that fall into the category of entertainment) to be considered a deductible business expense, they must meet the IRS requirements of either the Directly Related Test or the Associated Test (summarized below). Once you have determined that the expense is deductible, then you must decide if it is fully deductible or a limited deduction.

Directly Related Test

  • Main purpose of activity was the active conduct of business with another person
  • During the activity, you did engage in business with the person
  • You had more than a general expectation of getting income or some other specific business benefit at some time in the future

Associated Test

  • Activity was associated with the active conduct of your business
  • Activity was directly before or after a substantial business discussion

Deduction Limitations

There are only a couple of circumstances where entertainment expenses are fully deductible.

  • Company picnics or holiday parties (when all employees are welcome).
  • Occasional meals provided on the employer’s premises if more than half of the employees are provided the meals for employer’s convenience (such as meals brought in during company meetings).

All other entertainment expenses are only 50% deductible. Please see the “PROCESS” section below for some guidance on how to indicate which category you think the entertainment expense falls into.


How to record the deduction:

Once you have determined that the meal or entertainment is a deductible expense, then you must determine if the expense is 100% deductible or 50% deductible. To differentiate between the two, you can set up two accounts in your chart of accounts for each major category that includes M&E:

Meals and Entertainment‐100% deductible


Meals and Entertainment – 50% deductible


If you have expenses for Entertainment, then you must keep records that show details of the following four elements:

  • Amount ‐ Cost of each separate expense
  • Time Date of entertainment
  • Place or Description Name and address or location of place of entertainment. Type of entertainment if not otherwise apparent.
  • Business Purpose and Business Relationship –
    Purpose:  Business purpose for the expense or the business benefit gained or expected to be gained.  For entertainment, the nature of the business discussion or activity.  If the entertainment was directly before or after a business discussion: the date, place, nature, and duration of the business discussion, and the identities of the persons who took part in both the business discussion and the entertainment activity.
    Relationship:  Occupations or other information (such as names, titles, or other designations) about the recipients that shows their business relationship to you.  For entertainment, you must also prove that you or your employee was present if the entertainment was a business meal.

Greenberg Traurig Adds Former City Attorney to Austin Office

Greenberg Traurig, LLP has announced the hire of Karen M. Kennard as a shareholder in the Government Law & Policy Group in Austin.

Kennard focuses her practice on government law, policy, and regulatory matters with an emphasis on municipal local government issues. Her experience spans more than two decades and includes positions as City Attorney for a large city and General Counsel for the largest municipal league in the country.


Prior to joining the firm, Kennard served as City Attorney for the City of Austin, Texas, where she was instrumental in leading several high-profile initiatives, including four large municipal bond elections, the transition from at-large council district election system to single member district elections, settlement of two U.S. Department of Justice pattern and practice investigations, negotiation and drafting of major Chapter 380 economic development agreements, and the sale and transfer of large tracts of publicly owned property for redevelopment purposes.

Kennard received her J.D. from the Texas Tech University School of Law and her B.A. from Southern Methodist University.