Former In-House Counsel for Austin Wind Developer Joins Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell has announced the hiring of associate Lacey Watson to the firm’s Austin office, where she joins the firm’s Corporate group.

Watson formerly served as corporate and regulatory counsel for Cielo Wind Services, Inc., a privately held wind power project development company based in Austin. There, she advised on a full range of legal issues related to wind power generation business activities, including the purchase, generation, sale and transmission of power, and other commercial, compliance and real property matters. She also advised on regulatory issues related to wind power and negotiated and drafted power purchase agreements, interconnection agreements and other contracts.

Watson received her J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law (2011), where she was on the Dean’s List and received an Energy Law Certificate. She also served as an industry liaison for the university’s Texas Wind Energy Institute. Prior to law school, she held several broadcast positions, including as a producer and reporter for Fox 44 News in Waco, Texas. Watson received her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (2007), where she was on the Dean’s List and a member of Lambda Pi Eta honors society.

 

Austin Attorney Receives MADD Award

Stephen W. Stewart, founder of The Stewart Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Austin, was honored with a 2014 Star Volunteer Award for services as a Law Enforcement Appreciation Team Member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“It is an honor to have received this volunteer award,” said Stephen W. Stewart. “Thousands of people each year suffer personal injuries or fatal injuries as a result of a collision caused by a drunk driver. About every 20 minutes in Texas…someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol. One crash is simply too many. Many of these victims will need real help in order to deal with the resulting physical, emotional, and financial consequences in their lives.”

Stewart also added that he “applauds Central Texas law enforcement agencies, MADD, and TexDOT for all of the hard work that they do in an effort to make Central Texas roadways safer.”

Stewart serves as Chairman of the Central Texas MADD Advisory Board. At the law enforcement recognition event, Stewart presented the “Jaime Padron Memorial Hero Award” to Austin Police Chief, Art Acevedo, for his work in DWI enforcement. This is a MADD award given to a law enforcement officer who has exhibited superior commitment to DWI enforcement. Jaime Padron was killed in the line of duty for the Austin Police Department on April 6, 2012.

Kathleen Ford Bay Joins Lippincott Phelan Veidt

Lippincott Phelan Veidt (LPV) has announced Kathleen Ford Bay, who has been practicing trusts & estates law for 39 years, has joined the firm.

“Kathleen is a very experienced and welcomed addition to our team,” said Marc Lippincott, managing partner of LPV. “We pride ourselves on having great problem solvers throughout our organization, and Kathleen has fit right in to our team; she provides great perspective and a diverse client base of exciting businesses and professional individuals.”

Lippincott Phelan Veidt, PLLC is an Austin-based law firm. LPV has a broad practice, including commercial law, family law, and estate planning/probate. Its Commercial Law Division handles business formation, commercial litigation, contract review, construction law, employment, real estate, and intellectual property. Its Family Law Division handles divorce, child custody, child support, property division, and suits involving the establishment of parental rights. Its Estate Planning Division handles wills, trusts, “living wills,” powers of attorney, health care and medical needs planning, special needs trusts, and probate.

Haynes and Boone Partner Analyzes Texas Supreme Court’s Changes to International Law Practice

The Texas Supreme Court has recently issued its final approval for a set of reforms to the state’s international law practice rules that had been recommended by a task force chaired by Haynes and Boone, LLP Partner Larry Pascal, of Austin.

The order issued effective Oct. 1 incorporates various revisions made after a public comment period and contains the final version of the rules.

Pascal said the changes represent a major leap forward for international law practice in Texas and largely match the rules of perennial market leader New York.

“These international law practice reforms represent an important step forward in this area for the State of Texas, and I am confident that they will enhance educational, professional, economic, and cultural ties between the State of Texas and its major trading partners,” he said.

Pascal also thanked all of the members of the task force, the Texas Board of Law Examiners, the State Bar of Texas and the Supreme Court for all of their hard work devoted to this issue, noting that he was “extremely grateful to have collaborated with such a fine group of professionals in working through a variety of important policy considerations for international law practice for the state.”

As approved, foreign lawyers licensed in civil law countries will now be eligible to sit for the Texas Bar by completing an LLM Master’s degree from an ABA-approved law school, in addition to the other typical bar requirements including but not limited to passing a character and fitness test. Common law applicants would have three different routes in order to be eligible to sit for the Texas Bar exam, including via a practice requirements approach for attorneys who have actively practiced law for three of the last five years.

The order also streamlines the registration of foreign legal consultants in Texas, which is likely to assist Texas companies in hiring experienced corporate counsel for their in-house needs related to their international expansion or operations.

In addition, the order permits licensed foreign attorneys to appear pro hac vice in a Texas court proceeding with the assistance of licensed Texas counsel and upon application to the court.

Finally, the Texas Supreme Court’s order strengthens the LLM degree requirements by adding more required courses (also largely matching New York) and such curricular changes would be grandfathered to be effective two years thereafter.

Pascal said the changes enhance Texas’ reputation as a modern international legal marketplace ready to make the most of trade with Latin America, Asia Pacific, and other regions.

He formerly served as the chair of the International Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, and in that capacity led the reform of the Texas Foreign Legal Consultant rule, which was modernized to more closely resembles the ABA Model rule. He also led the adoption of a resolution by the State Bar of Texas at its annual meeting calling for modernization of the international practice rules to be more in line with New York.

The Texas Supreme Court later appointed him as the chair of this task force in August 2009 and the task force submitted its unanimous recommendations in December 2012. He also serves on the board of directors and Secretary of World Services Group, an international law firm network with 130 member firms in 115 countries.

At Haynes and Boone, LLP, Pascal serves as the co-chair of the International Practice Group, specializing in complex corporate projects related to Latin America and Spain. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese and has been recognized by Chambers and Partners and Latin Lawyer for his leading corporate practice in the region.

Central Texas Lawyer Writes About protecting Your Heirs

By Brad Wiewel, of the Wiewel Law Firm

Most people want to leave their family members an inheritance in a way that is the most beneficial for their heirs. This usually means a method that preserves the inheritance and protects it from being wasted or taken away by someone else. Trusts are a great way to do this.

Property that is given to an heir by will or through automatic means, such as a pay on death account or life insurance, is given to the heir or beneficiary outright. As soon as he or she gets it, all of the money can be spent or taken away. It is treated just like any other assets that the heir has. However, when something is left in trust, the assets can be protected. A recent article in the Green Bay Press Gazette, titledin Inheriting in trust can protect beneficiary,” listed some of the things a trust can protect against.

The list includes:

  • Bankruptcy - Many trusts do not count as assets during bankruptcy.
  • Divorce - Trusts can be structured in a way such that an ex-spouse does not have any right to principle in the trust.
  • Lawsuits - Trust assets are normally not subject to legal judgments.
  • Bad Decisions – Trusts can be set up to only allow distributions for specific purposes, such as educational and medical expenses.
  • Young Age - Trusts can be used to only allow the beneficiary to receive the bulk of the inheritance when he or she is old enough to spend it wisely.

The list is not all-inclusive. The bottom line is that a trust provides far more potential asset protection than an outright inheritance. Depending upon the needs of your family, an estate planning attorney can create a trust for you that protects assets and preserves them for your beneficiaries.

Reference: Green Bay Press Gazette (August 25, 2014) “Inheriting in trust can protect beneficiary

President Obama Nominates UT Law School Grad to Serve as Federal Judge in the Southern District of Texas

United States President Barack Obama has nominated Judge Alfred H. Bennett, and six others, to become federal judges.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,” President Obama said.  “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

Judge Bennett has been nominated for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

Judge Bennett is the Presiding Judge for the 61st Civil District Court of Texas, a position he has held since 2009.  From 2010 to 2011, he served as the Administrative Judge for the Harris County Civil District Courts.  From 1998 to 2008, Judge Bennett was a solo practitioner, representing individuals and companies in litigation before both state and federal courts.  From 1994 to 1998, he worked at Solar & Fernandes LLP and from 1991 to 1994, he worked at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

Judge Bennett received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1991 and his B.S. from the University of Houston in 1988.

Dorius Brings Experience as Engineer AND Patent Lawyer to Austin-based law firm of Reed & Scardino

Reed & Scardino LLP has announced the arrival of Kirk Dorius as Of Counsel at the downtown Austin law firm.

Dorius’ practice focuses on patent prosecution, licensing, and patent litigation. His intellectual property practice has included client counseling, written opinions, trademarks, and intellectual property portfolio development and commercialization for a range of manufacturing, medical, oil and gas, automotive, mechanical, and electro-mechanical technologies.

Prior to joining Reed & Scardino, he was an associate with Fish & Richardson P.C. and with Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. He also served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Richard Story of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Dorius received a J.D. with honors from the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce Law Center in 2004. Prior to law school, he worked as a mechanical engineer with The Boeing Company, the byproduct of a B.S. in mechanical engineering he received from Utah State University.

Dorius told Austin Legal News that the engineering degree and experience in the field has allowed him “to take a hands-on approach to understanding and protecting clients’ new technologies. Kirk

“I have found great value in visiting client facilities for product demonstrations and on-site strategy sessions with development teams.  Some of the most valuable patent claims have been crafted on a factory floor, in a machine shop, or with grease from a prototype under my fingernails.  In one example, I flew to a prospective client’s factory and walked an automated production line with the inventors and with their previously rejected patent applications in hand.  We were able to identify key process parameters overlooked in earlier patent prosecution and secure patent rights leading to enhanced royalties for subsequent licensing of the technology.

“I am also actively involved with the Pointsman Foundation in commercialization of the patented MAGIS isotopic separation technology developed by Dr. Mark Raizen at UT Austin.  MAGIS technology and the foundation will provide stable isotopes for use in production of medical radioisotopes for medical diagnostics, cancer therapy and research, as well as for applications in fundamental physics research, energy production, water purification and more efficient lighting.”

Perot Rebuffed on Appeal in Challenge to Mark Cuban’s Management of Mavericks

The 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas has upheld a trial court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, which alleged the team was being mismanaged.

The plaintiffs in the case were Hillwood Properties III and its owner Ross Perot Jr. Perot is the former owner of the Mavericks and is now a minority owner of the team. They alleged in a lawsuit that Cuban had been “careless and reckless,” resulting in a loss of substantial investment value to the now minority owners. Further, they alleged the team was on the verge of insolvency, and that a receiver should be appointed to take over management of the Mavericks.

The case attracted national headlines, at least in the legal community, because Cuban’s legal team at Fish & Richardson filed a motion for summary judgment that featured a photo of Cuban and his team hoisting the 2011 NBA Championship trophy. The plaintiffs emphasized in the motion that “under Hillwood’s ownership, the team was deemed the ‘worst franchise’ in all of professional sports. Under Cuban’s stewardship the Mavericks have become one of the league’s most successful teams and are now NBA champions. Accordingly, there can be no genuine question that Hillwood’s claims of mismanagement lack merit and Hillwood’s claims should be disposed of on summary judgment.”

In affirming the ruling of the trial court, the appeals court agreed that there was no evidence that the Mavericks were in financial distress.

“Hillwood cites no authority, and we have found none, to support an interpretation of insolvency that would involve disregarding a historical and ongoing pattern of continuing financial contributions from third parties,” the appeals court wrote.

“Further, even assuming the test for the inability to pay debts as they come due is a ‘forward-looking test,’ the test remains whether the entity is insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency. While the test for insolvency may ‘look forward,’ it may only look forward to determine whether insolvency is ‘imminent.'”

To see the opinion, visit: http://600commerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Hillwood-Investment-Props.-III-Ltd.-v.-Radical-Mavericks-Mgmt.-LLC.pdf

Austin Attorney Stabbed on Jogging Trail

KXAN has reporter that Austin attorney Mark Siefken was stabbed Tuesday morning on a southwest Austin jogging trail.

Siefken, a partner at MacLnnes, Whigham & Siefken, was stabbed in the stomach and underwent surgery that same day.

The television station reported that Austin Police got a call around 6:30 a.m. about the attack, which occurred at Archstone Trail near Mopac and Highway 290 at the intersection of Staggerbrush Road and Roadrunner Lane. The two men reportedly approached the jogger for money, and when he didn’t  have any, they stabbed him.

Police said two men approached Siefken, asked him for money, and then stabbed him after he said he didn’t have any.

The attorney was treated at greenbelt and  then transported him to University Medical Center Brackenridge, with “critical injuries,” according to KXAN.

The full story is available here: http://kxan.com/2014/09/16/crews-responding-to-southwest-austin-water-rescue/

Greenberg Traurig’s Demetrius G. McDaniel Named To Top Lobbyists & Influencers List

Demetrius G. McDaniel, a shareholder in the Austin office of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, has been named to the Lawyers Of Color & On Being A Black Lawyer’s Second Annual Top Lobbyists and Influencers List. McDaniel will be honored at The Caucus Prelude Reception hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. prior to the organization’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) on September 24-27.

“We are very proud of Demetrius and congratulate him on this prestigious recognition,” said Darrell R. Windham, co-managing shareholder of the firm’s Austin office. “Demetrius is well known in our state capital, within the firm and around the nation as a top lobbying professional who advocates ethically and relentlessly for his clients and is extremely deserving of this top honor.”

According to its website, Lawyers of Color was initially founded as On Being A Black Lawyer, but now also produces publications for lawyers of South Asian American, Pacific Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American heritage. Lawyers of Color has been recognized by the American Bar Association, National Black Law Students Association, and National Association of Black Journalists. With a core readership of 35,000, nearly 200,000 unique annual blog visitors, and nearly 4,000 followers and fans, Lawyers of Color has the largest social media presence of any minority legal organization.

McDaniel, Chair of the firm’s Texas Government Law & Policy Practice, counsels and provides advocacy for Fortune 500 and other large private and public sector clients on federal, state and local legal and public policy matters. His broad knowledge of federal and state government allows him to collaboratively develop strategies to help clients solve complex problems that have a government origin or nexus. McDaniel consults with clients on their strategic objectives and provides advice on important issues that will enhance their business opportunities, increase their compliance with laws and regulations, and assist them in building internal systems to prevent problems from occurring with all levels of government.