Firm Launches Comprehensive Ebola Legal Resource Site

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, which recently launched an office in Austin, has announced the launch of a comprehensive online resource to help healthcare leaders and other organizations impacted by the Ebola virus to navigate diverse issues pertaining to the arrival of the virus in the United States.

The website can be accessed at  file000388465185

“The immediate and long-term legal implications of the Ebola virus on all facets of hospital, clinic and practice management must be seriously considered,” said Mark Peters, a partner in Waller’s Labor and Employment practice who works extensively with healthcare employers. “Waller’s Ebola legal resource website comes in response to the many questions we’ve received from clients. Preparation in this situation is important, whether an Ebola patient walks through your doors or if you are simply dealing with the climate it has created.”

The site launched with a compilation of media articles, links to resources, such as the CDC, and original articles from Waller attorneys including:

The Ebola Legal Resource will be updated with new content and information as Ebola’s impact continues to be analyzed and studied by Waller attorneys. The site will serve as a source of information for healthcare executives, board members, risk managers, human resources professionals and others who are asking what Ebola means, from a legal perspective, for their organization, employees and patients.


Pirkey Barber Elevates Matthysse to Member, Adds Two New Attorneys

Jered E. Matthysse

Jered E. Matthysse

Austin-based trademark law firm Pirkey Barber PLLC has announced that Jered E. Matthysse has been named as its latest member effective Jan. 1, 2015.  In addition, the firm added Erik Combs and Alex Bistline as associates.

Matthysse joined the firm as an associate in 2009 and has extensive experience in trademark law with a focus on litigation and policing.

Prior to joining Pirkey Barber, Matthysse served as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  He received his J.D. with High Honors from The George Washington University Law School, where he served as Executive Managing Editor for the International Law Review and was a member of The Order of the Coif. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History with High Distinction from The University of Iowa.  Matthysse is a member of the Austin Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, the State Bar of Texas Intellectual Property Law Section, the Austin Young Lawyers Association, and is a member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s Trademark Law Committee.

Alex Bistline earned her J.D. with Highest Honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was Grand Chancellor of the Class of 2014, a board member of the Texas Law Review, and elected to The Order of the Coif.  Prior to law school, Bistline graduated with Highest Honors from the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Plan II.  She is a member of the Austin Intellectual Property American Inn of Court.

Erik Combs completed his J.D. at the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of the Texas Environmental Law Journal.  While attending law school, he received the Dean’s Achievement Award in Patent Law.  Prior to law school, Combs received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering in 2006 from Washington University in St. Louis.  He is a member of the Austin Intellectual Property American Inn of Court.

Bistline and Combs both focus their practice on trademark, copyright, and unfair competition law.

Austin Attorneys Face Federal Drug Charges

Two  Austin attorneys have been arrested for their involvement  in an Austin-based drug distribution operation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorneys Richard Patrick Fagerberg and David Ramos each face 10 years to life in prison for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.

The Austin Business Journal reported that both attorneys were “not eligible to practice in Texas,” citing the State Bar of Texas website.

UT Law School To Expand Pro Bono Program after $1 million Gift

A recent $1 million gift to The University of Texas School of Law from Richard and Virginia “Ginni” Mithoff of Houston will support the school’s Pro Bono Program. The gift brings the Mithoffs’ total contributions to the program to $2 million.

By participating in the Pro Bono Program, students increase access to justice and build their professional skills by assisting individuals and communities in need.The program will be renamed the Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program to acknowledge the donors who first supported it with an initial $1 million gift at its founding five years ago.

The Mithoffs’ recent donation will increase the endowment for the program.Richard Mithoff earned his J.D. from the School of Law in 1971.

“Richard Mithoff is one of the greatest lawyers in America, and he and his wife, Ginni, are two of the state’s most dedicated and generous philanthropists,” said Ward Farnsworth, dean of the School of Law. “We are deeply fortunate to have their support of our Pro Bono Program; the endowment they are creating to support its work will make an important difference in the lives of thousands of people for many years to come. Having the Mithoff name on the program does honor to their commitments and will be a constant source of pride and inspiration for everyone here at the Law School.”

Since 2009, the Pro Bono Program has grown to include full-time staffers and student scholars. It engages an increasing number of students, faculty members and alumni each year in pro bono work and offers service projects and legal clinics that help hundreds of people across the state.The expanded endowment for the program will allow it to serve more low-income clients, involve more students and instill in School of Law graduates a commitment to pro bono work that will continue throughout their careers.

The Pro Bono Program is a project of the school’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. As a former law clerk for U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, Mithoff was also an early supporter of the Justice Center.

“The Pro Bono Program at the Texas School of Law is one of the finest pro bono programs in the country,” Richard Mithoff said. “Ginni and I are honored to be a part of this program, which not only provides outstanding training to our law students and future lawyers, but also provides very valuable legal assistance to those most in need. We are very proud of the overwhelming participation by students and faculty.”

Before graduating from the School of Law, Richard Mithoff received his bachelor of business administration from UT Austin. In 1974 he went into practice with legendary trial attorney and 1952 School of Law alumnus Joe Jamail. In 2005, he established the Mithoff Law Firm, which is focused on general civil litigation.He currently serves on the University of Texas Law School Foundation and has endowed a series of scholarships at his alma mater, including a Presidential Scholarship in law for educationally, socially and culturally disadvantaged students.Ginni Mithoff received her B.S. in elementary education from UT Austin and serves on the University of Texas Development Board and the University of Texas Health Science Center Development Board.

“I’m delighted the UT law school’s Pro Bono Program is being named for Richard and Ginni Mithoff,” said University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, who is also a former dean of the School of Law. “Increasing access to justice by serving those in need is an important value we need to instill in every UT law student. Through the Mithoffs’ generosity, we can now do that even better.”

Central Texas Attorney Writes About Emerging Lawsuits Involving Disposal of the Body

Brad Wiewel of the the Wiewel Law Firm recently blogged about emerging litigation involving disposal of the body:

If someone does not leave directions about how he or she wants to be buried or cremated after passing away, things can become problematic when family members disagree about what to do.

A recent case in Florida concerned the remains of a 23-year-old man who was killed by a drunk driver. The man was not married and did not have children. This left his parents as his sole heirs and his parents were divorced. The two disagreed over what to do with his ashes.

The father wanted to divide the ashes between the two of them, while the mother disagreed with that on religious grounds. Because they could not agree, they ended up in court.

To read the full story of this unusual litigation, click over to an article in Wealth Management titled “May He Rest in Pieces?.” The article has the entire story of the litigation, the legal theories the parents relied on, and why the court decided as it did.

Ultimately, the mother won in this case.

This case highlights two important issues. The first is that you should make the disposition of your remains part of your broader overall estate plan. That did not happen in this case because the deceased did not have an estate plan, not even a will.

This is another important issue and a common problem. Younger people think they have many years left to create an estate plan. However, as this case shows, you never know when you might have a life-ending accident. Without an estate plan, you very well could leave family members to argue over something as basic and fundamental as what to do with your remains.

Regardless of how old you are, make sure that you have made your wishes known and make sure that you consult an experienced estate planning attorney. You can never know when it will be too late to do either.

Reference: Wealth Management (September 24, 2014) “May He Rest in Pieces?

LMA Austin City Group Hosts Lunch Program on (Be)Cause Marketing

The Austin City Group of the Legal Marketing Association will host a lunch program on (Be)Cause Marketing on October 21 at The Law Office of Baker Botts on 98 San Jacinto Blvd.

The luncheon, which begins with a registration at 11:30, is $20 for LMA members, and $40 for guests.

The topic will be (Be)Cause Marketing, an exploration of Philanthropy, Charity, Corporate Social Responsibility, Cause Marketing and understanding subtle differences and similarities.  In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are finding creative ways to add value for their clients/customers and do social good at the same time.

The sSpeakers:

  • Riley Gerber, Marketing Director for Reed & Scardino and Executive Director at Boneshaker Project
  • Sara Rodell, Founder and Entrepreneur at Loop & Tie
  • Maggie Miller, Co-founder, The Digital Union

To RSVP, click here:

The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. Adds Attorney to Austin Office

The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. PLLC has added Rachel Hernandez to its Austin office.

With four years of experience working as a family violence prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney’s office, Hernandez brings unique experience to a which she will represent the firm as a family law counselor in the Austin, Round Rock and Georgetown areas.

She graduated Cum Laude from St. Edward’s University in Austin in 1994 and graduated from the University Of Texas School Of Law in 1998. Hernandez is the sister of Alex R. Hernandez Jr., the founder.

McGinnis Lochridge Adds Associate to Austin Office

McGinnis Lochridge has announced that Kayla Carrick has joined the firm as part of the Litigation Team.

Kayla received her B.A. from The University of North Carolina in 2009 and her J.D. from Carrick_Kayla_LIThe University of Texas School of Law in 2013 where she served as Chief Notes Editor for The Review of Litigation.

She completed her clerkship with Justice Brown of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals and has also worked as a judicial Intern for U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, Western District of Texas.

Paralegals File Lawsuit Against Law Firm with Offices in Austin over ‘Unpaid Overtime’

Paralegals Sarah Garza and Roberta Riley have filed suit against Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys for “unpaid overtime wages.” The case has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that the personal injury law firm of Thomas J. Henry failed to pay Garza, Riley, and others overtime in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs’ collective action seeks to recover unpaid overtime wages owed to Garza and Riley, as well as other current and former employees.  Thomas J. Henry Injury has offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio.

Garza, Riley, and other paralegals “regularly worked many hours in excess of forty hours per week, but were not compensated for this overtime, despite being legally entitled to time-and-a-half payment.” The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that the law firm’s failure to pay overtime wages was committed knowingly and willfully – and that many other workers employed by Thomas J. Henry have also not received fair overtime wages over the last three years. Paralegals currently with the firm or whom the firm employed at any time in the past three years may also be considered part of the class action suit according to the filing.

Garza and Riley are represented by Alfonso Kennard, Jr., AJ Rodriguez, and Amanda C. Hernandez of Kennard Law. According to Kennard, “All employees deserve to be fairly compensated for their hard work. A failure to pay overtime wages in accordance with the law is unacceptable, regardless of who you are.”


The Loewy Law Firm Steps Up to the Plate with Major Donation to Capital Area of Texas Food Bank

The Loewy Law Firm recently pledged $15,000 to the Capital Area of Texas Food Bank.

The firm issued the following statement:

“Our firm has been blessed with amazing clients and friends who help us succeed each day. We do not take this for granted. We are committed to giving back to the community.

“The CAFB’s mission is vital, yet often overlooked. Many community members in Austin are forced to make daily decisions about food: if I want my child to eat, will I have to go hungry today?

“CAFB provides food and grocery products, nutrition education, and social services outreach to 300,000 people each year. We hope that this donation will sustain these efforts and make sure that no one is hungry this Thanksgiving.

“We encourage you to consider volunteering or donating in support of CAFB. It is vitally important to our community’s success that our friends, clients, family members, and neighbors are taken care of.”