University of Texas School of Law Student Receives Scholarship from Austin Law Firm

Broden & Mickelsen, a federal and state criminal defense law firm, announced the winner of a scholarship available only to law students in Texas.

Hensleigh Crowell, a second year student at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, was chosen among a group of highly qualified applicants. Crowell has an undergrad in psychology and is enrolled full time, concentrating on criminal law. In her past, Crowell worked for the Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the Broden & Mickelson Criminal Law Student Scholarship,” said Crowell. “I came to law school knowing that I wanted to spend my career working to reduce our country’s reliance on mass incarceration, but I was also aware that this type of work is not always popular and certainly not well-funded. This scholarship financially enabled me to work at a Public Defender Office, delivering my first real world experience in criminal defense.”

Clint Broden, attorney at Broden & Mickelsen, said the scholarship’s purpose was “to find and help an exemplary student like Crowell. Crowell’s dedication to criminal defense aligns with our firm and the greater criminal justice community. We look forward to seeing her graduate and grow in her pursuit of defending the accused.”

“Criminal defense is often an unpopular choice for law students,” said attorney Mick Mickelsen. “It’s a field that is less lucrative then business or corporate law, yet that doesn’t make it any less important. Broden and I created the scholarship to reward Texas law students aligned with criminal defense and to encourage employment with a Federal Public Defender Office.”

Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen were both Federal Public Defenders in Texas. The experience greatly, they said, affected their passion and skill for criminal defense and led to the opening of their own law firm in 1998. Broden & Mickelsen founded the scholarship in 2014 to provide financial assistance to students and encourage a similar career path.

 

Last Day to Register for ALA’s 16th Annual Legal Expo

Today is the last day to register for the 16th Annual Legal Expo, which is set for the afternoon of August 28 at the W Hotel on Lavaca St.

The event, which costs $40, is produced by the Austin Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, with support from the Austin City Group of the Legal Marketing Association.

The festivities start at noon with a luncheon, followed by the Expo portion at 1 p.m., an educational session at 3:15, and a Happy Hour at 4:30.

The topic for the education session is:

Cyber security, data breach, cyber extortion, business interruption, and public relations. We hear something about this in the news daily and professional firms seem to be the newest targets. If these and other related issues are keeping you awake at night, plan to attend the Austin ALA Chapter’s Summer Educational Seminar and Legal EXPO to hear our panel discuss these issues and what you can do about them to be sure your firm and clients are protected.
Register for the event here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1HQLsb4IqwGy9iZekMIc-fk4gL6TVjcZNpXgoDaZeIoY/viewform?edit_requested=true

 

Amanda Jester Finds Success as a Healthcare Lawyer in the Austin Office of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis

An integral member of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP’s expansive national healthcare department, Amanda Jester seemed destined for a successful career in healthcare law from the moment she received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 2003.

Shortly thereafter, Jester went to work for a law firm in Washington D.C., where her grasp of the regulatory aspects of healthcare law turned heads.Jester-Amanda-K-mobile

Ten years later, she has developed a legal expertise around guiding investors, owners and operators in mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, contracting and compliance issues.  Her work has earned her recognition in the prestigious Chambers USA as well as caught our eye as a worthy subject for an interview.

Question: How would you describe your practice?

Answer: My practice is focused on the healthcare industry.  I structure and execute transactions in the healthcare industry in order to maintain compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and to achieve operational efficiencies.

Q: What do you like most about this area of law?

A: I enjoy navigating the dynamics between the various players in the industry.  Doctors, hospitals, payers and, of course, patients, all play different but integral roles.  I also love shepherding a transaction to close where the sellers are reaping the rewards of their lives’ work.

Q: How is this area of law changing?

A: Healthcare law is in constant flux.  Federal and state laws are changing to eliminate fraud and waste, and maximize access to and quality of care.  State laws that regulate licensed professionals and facilities are also changing to accommodate and regulate new methods of healthcare delivery and technology.

Q: Is there anyone you would like to single out, who has positively influence your path in the law?

A: My partner, Brent Hill, has been a great mentor to me.  He is not only an excellent lawyer, but also understands the business of law.

Austin Attorneys Write for Inside Counsel Magazine

Drew McEwen and Kevin Oldham, who both serve as senior counsel for Dykema’s Austin office, recently wrote an article for Inside Counsel Magazine on “Being an effective inside counsel for your company’s tax department.”

“Inside counsel for today’s businesses are often required to play many different roles: monitor, researcher, business advisor, counselor and gatekeeper, to name just a few,” the article begins. “In order to successfully navigate these multiple roles, many in-house attorneys are finding it necessary to open up lines of communication with other key departments within the business. The increased responsibility placed on inside counsel requires extensive intra-business communication to ensure that in-house attorneys are informed of all activities that may have a legal impact on the organization. Unfortunately, in many instances, there is a disconnect between inside counsel and an organization’s tax department.”

To see the full article, visit: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2014/08/05/being-an-effective-inside-counsel-for-your-company

 

Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody Hires New Associate

Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody has announced the hire of Jennifer L. Smith as an associate.

Smith, formerly of Gardere Wynne, focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance within the entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare and energy industries. She has broad experience representing a variety of clients from private equity groups to global oil and gas companies. Her practice also includes reorganizations as well as private equity and debt financings.

Smith earned her J.D. at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, cum laude, in December 2008; and aBachelor of Healthcare Administration at Texas State University in 2000.

Austin-based Peaceful Streets Project: Federal Judge Upholds Right to Film Police

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane has upheld the Constitutional right to film police officers in the case of Antonio Buehler vs. the City of Austin, Austin Police Department, et. al.

Plaintiff Antonio Buehler, founder of Abrome Learning and the Peaceful Streets Project made headlines in 2012 after he photographed Austin Police Officer Patrick Oborski assaulting a woman in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2012. After Oborski noticed Buehler taking pictures, he assaulted Buehler, and filed a Felony Harassment of a Public Official charge against him for allegedly spitting in the officer’s face. A charge that carries a two to ten year prison sentence.

Facing felony charges, Buehler went to the public to ask for witnesses to step forward, and multiple witnesses did. A local entrepreneur and a local academician who were both in the 7-11 parking lot shared their stories with the local media, and a gentleman across the street took cell phone video of the incident. With witnesses and the video, coupled with Buehler’s background which included degrees from West Point and Stanford, prior service as an Airborne Ranger qualified Army officer, extensive volunteering and education work with children, his role as a designated driver that night, and no previous run-ins with law enforcement, the incident garnered significant media attention and forced the Austin Police Department to resort to a slander campaign against Buehler and the woman who was assaulted on New Year’s Day.

Buehler used his significant following of supporters to then launch the Peaceful Streets Project to encourage people to know their rights, stand up for the rights of one another and to hold police accountable for their actions. The Peaceful Streets Project handed out 100 free video cameras to residents of Austin to document police action, they organized hundreds of cop watch events, and they organized two police accountability summits with speakers such as the Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, and investigative journalist Radley Balko.

With the rise of the success of the Peaceful Streets Project, the Austin Police Department increased their harassment of Buehler and his supporters. APD arrested several Peaceful Streets Project volunteers for filming, including Buehler who they arrested three more times. Each time the police arrested a filmer, the Peaceful Streets Project would increase their efforts to document police actions.

Buehler’s charges remained outstanding for 15 months before a Grand Jury finally no-billed Buehler. However, they did indict him on four class C misdemeanor charges (failure to obey (3), interference with public duties (1)).

Buehler retained Attorney Daphne Silverman to file suit against the City of Austin, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Officers Patrick Oborski, Robert Snider, Adam Johnson and Justin Berry, on First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment Grounds, as well as violations of the Texas Constitution, conversion, false arrest and false imprisonment. The City of Austin then filed motions to dismiss the case which resulted in Judge Lane’s decision.

Judge Lane ruled against the city on almost every ground of the 12(b)(6) motion, with the exception of excessive force. Buehler’s civil rights suit against the City remains lively, as there is a recognized First Amendment right to film the police: “A private citizen has the right to assemble in a public forum, receive information on a matter of public concern – such as police officers performing their official duties – and to record that information for the purpose of conveying that information.”

Silverman said that she and her client were pleased with Lane’s detailed analysis in support of Buehler’s constitutional rights. “This ruling is a clear signal to law enforcement that the public can now photograph and videotape police officers so long as they don’t interfere with the officer’s duties,” she said.

Buehler said he hopes his case exposes corruption endemic within the Austin Police Department and in departments nationwide. “The extent to which APD is willing to go to try to victimize the victims of police abuse to protect cops who commit felony crimes is quite telling about the corrupt culture within the police department. I am the founder of an education company, a West Point, Stanford and Harvard graduate, the designated driver that night who tried to stand up for a woman being assaulted by the police, and there are a half dozen witnesses and two videos that all prove that the cops committed multiple crimes that night and that the woman they assaulted and I were both innocent victims. If the cops are willing to go after me like this, imagine what they’ll do to a young black or Hispanic male, a homeless person, or a person with prior drug offenses.”

The National Press Photographers Association in May filed an amicus brief in support of his case, which the organization says is not an isolated incident but “part of a nationwide phenomenon where police have interfered with citizens’ rights to photograph and video-record officers engaged in official business in public spaces.”

“NPPA follows these cases closely, and strives to ensure that the crucial role that journalists and citizens play in promoting discussions of public concern is not diminished,” the brief states.

While Buehler has not been convicted of any crimes levied against him by the Austin Police Department, the four misdemeanor charges are still pending, over two years later.

For more information, visit www.peacefulstreetsproject.com

Austin Attorney Discusses Why New Truck Safety Regulation Suspended

The Senate Appropriations Committee has temporarily suspended a new truck safety regulation, fearing it will actually cause more accidents than it would prevent.

“The suspended rule limited how often truckers may drive between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Its intention was to reduce fatigue, and thus reduce accidents. However, the trucking industry responded, pointing out that it would place even more big rigs on the road during daytime hours and, therefore, actually increase the likelihood of accidents,” explained trucking accident attorney Brooks Schuelke of Austin-based Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP.

To prioritize safety for all drivers, the Senate Appropriations Committee suspended the regulation and sent it for further study, agreeing that highways and interstates would be more congested during peak daylight commuter hours. The trucking industry was heartened by the move to suspend the regulation and expressed hope that they would be more involved with any changes to current rules.

The current regulations are a source of great frustration for trucking firms and drivers. “Regulations can lower wages and reduce productivity, leading to poor customer service and dissatisfied drivers,” Schuelke added, “and both these factors can raise the likelihood of a collision.”Schuelke

In committee meetings, senators debated the value and meaning of proper rest for safe driving. Opponents of the regulation pointed out that 4,000 people were killed and more than 73,000 injured in trucking collisions in 2012. The regulation was suspended in response, allowing the committee to focus on the safety aspects of large trucks on the road during the night.

But the problem may not even depend on this particular regulation. “Highways are busier now than they ever have been at every hour of day or night, especially here in Texas,” Schuelke pointed out. “You cannot legislate people’s actions. There are always going to be people who drive in violation of the law, and accidents are still going to happen.”

A second regulation, dubbed the “restart rule,” has also been suspended. Under it, truckers could drive a maximum of 70 hours a week before halting and resting for 34 consecutive hours. The rest time was required to include at least two time slots between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Thompson & Knight Adds Four Attorneys in Austin Office

The law firm of Thompson & Knight LLP has announced the addition of Rex D. VanMiddlesworth and Phillip G. Oldham as Partners and Katie Coleman and Benjamin B. Hallmark as Associates in the Government/Regulatory Practice Group of the firm’s Austin office.

“These attorneys offer expertise that adds a new dimension to our Austin office and to the Firm,” said James C. Morriss III, the Firm’s Government/ Regulatory Practice Group Leader and Austin Office Leader. “Their practice will complement our service to existing clients, many of which we have in common, and will expand the Firm’s client base. While we have a longstanding involvement in the energy industry and have served an industrial and manufacturing client base for many years, this group of attorneys brings these two elements together with their unparalleled experience in electricity-related regulatory matters, power market and electric project development issues, and in other related energy matters.”

VanMiddlesworth focuses his practice on commercial litigation, administrative law, energy, and alternative dispute resolution. He has tried cases in state court, federal court, before arbitration panels, and before state and federal agencies. He has also handled appeals in the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, and various Texas Courts of Appeals. VanMiddlesworth has extensive experience representing public and private entities in breach of contract disputes, tortious interference cases, and other forms of commercial litigation and arbitration. He handles all types of contested proceedings before state agencies and the State Office of Administrative Hearings, including licensing and rate-setting disputes. He also has represented a number of clients in constitutional and voting rights litigation.

He has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (1995-2014) by Woodward/White Inc., Chambers USA by Chambers & Partners (2011-2014), and Texas Super Lawyers®by Thomson Reuters (2003-2013). Also, he was named the 2012 Austin Energy “Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in America®. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. VanMiddlesworth is a frequent author and lecturer on issues including topics of evidence, ethics, constitutional litigation, and administrative litigation. Before beginning his law practice, he was awarded a Teaching Fellowship in Constitutional Law at Harvard University under Professor Archibald Cox.

Oldham focuses his practice on regulatory and administrative law, federal and state government affairs, and project development. He has specific expertise in energy and electric power markets. “His in-depth knowledge of regulatory issues in various industries makes him uniquely qualified to provide his clients with practical solutions to sophisticated legal issues,” according to the firm. Oldham has been recognized by numerous publications for his outstanding legal career, including The Best Lawyers in America® (2006-2014) by Woodward/White Inc., Chambers USA by Chambers & Partners (2011-2014), and “Leading Lawyer” in The Legal 500 US by Legalease  (2013-2014). In addition to his legal honors, he is an active member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, and Travis County Bar Association.

Coleman focuses her practice on regulatory and administrative law, with an emphasis on state and federal energy regulations, energy markets, energy litigation, and government affairs and appeals. “Her significant experience with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) allows her to provide clients with practical solutions to complicated matters involving the ERCOT protocols that govern wholesale market participation,” according to the firm. She also has expertise in administrative law matters involving rulemakings and disputes before the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Texas Racing Commission. An active participant in civic organizations, Coleman is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, Secretary/Treasurer of the State Bar of Texas Public Utility Law Section, and a Member of the Association of Women in Energy.

Hallmark focuses his practice on litigation and administrative law matters. He has represented clients in a wide range of matters involving antitrust, tortious interference, trade secrets, condemnation, and various other issues. He served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Nancy F. Atlas in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas from 2009 to 2010. Hallmark is an active member of the State Bar of Texas.

Prior to joining Thompson & Knight, the attorneys practiced in the Austin office of  Andrews Kurth, where VanMiddlesworth was Managing Partner.

Smith, Robertson, Elliott & Douglas LLP Names New Partner

Smith, Robertson, Elliott & Douglas has named Cathleen Slack as a partner.

Slack’s real estate practice focuses on representing clients in the acquisition, sale, development, financing, and leasing of commercial real estate. She routinely handles transactions involving office, retail, condominiums, skilled nursing facilities, multifamily, and mixed-use developments. Slack also advises clients in choice of entity, business formation, and mergers and acquisitions, as well as general business transactional matters.

Slack was previously a shareholder in the real estate practice group of Munsch Hardt’s Kopf & Harr’s Austin office.

Austin Attorney Wins Prestigious Jean W MacDonald Lifetime Achievement Award

Locke Lord Partner Cynthia Bast has been recognized by the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers with the Jean W. MacDonald Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given to an individual who exemplifies leadership in the affordable housing industry and embodies the philosophy of providing quality affordable housing to all Texans. The award was presented at the recent Texas Housing Conference.

Bast, who Chairs Locke Lord’s firm-wide Affordable Housing Practice and who is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Board of Directors, assists clients with complex affordable housing and community development transactions using a variety of financing tools, including housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, HUD programs, and other federal, state, and local resources.

In addition to her transactional work, Bast represents clients before relevant governmental authorities and advocates for affordable housing issues with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and Texas Legislature. More recently, she has been working with clients to preserve affordable housing properties that are nearing the ends of their regulatory compliance periods or in need of financial restructuring.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Cynthia,” said Locke Lord Chair Jerry Clements. “For more than 20 years, Cynthia has worked with clients providing legal and legislative assistance on affordable housing programs. She has been on the forefront of this growing industry, building Locke Lord’s affordable housing practice, and is recognized as a leader in the field. Cynthia is also a dedicated public servant, devoting countless hours to advocating for affordable housing issues and educating through speaking engagements across the country.”