The Top Corporate Counsel in Dallas-Fort Worth 2011

The honorees in this year's awards for in-house lawyers have taken their roles to a whole new level.

photography by Trevor Paulhus

Outstanding Chief Legal Officer
General Counsel—Solo

Laurie D. Tice Biddle
Hall Financial Group

In 2006, when Laurie Biddle was named in-house counsel at Hall Financial
Group, a company with about 80 employees locally and 250 globally, she
set about redefining its existing legal department.

“What I have really done is organize [it] in a fashion where we work
efficiently and expeditiously to handle legal matters and get deals
closed,” Biddle says. “I am about systems and processes, which allows us
to process a lot of work.”

Hall Financial Group, a privately held company based in Frisco, has
holdings a variety of industries, including commercial real estate,
software application development, vineyards and wineries, and oil and

Over the past 18 months, Biddle has closed transactions for Hall
totaling more than $450 million—including the sale of two multifamily
properties, taking a majority stake in Roessler, a Sonoma, Calif,
winemaker; and setting up a joint venture between Hall and Marathon Oil.

“I’ve always been a goal-setter and I’ve always been pretty focused,”
says Biddle, who was promoted to vice president and general counsel in
2008. “So to achieve those goals, I focused on what it takes to get from
A to B, from B to C. I am high-energy, so I have to stay focused or I’d
be all over the place.”

She’s had plenty of practice at juggling things.

In 1990, Biddle was a single working mother of two young girls. Wanting
to take her paralegal career even further, she enrolled in college,
attending at night and on weekends.

“I did it by managing and organizing and keeping each realm in order,”
Biddle says. “There were things I had to do to make it work. It was
those organizational skills and relationships. It was staying focused
and on goal.”

Biddle received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El
Paso in 1994. She went on to receive her juris doctorate from the
University of Texas at Austin in 1997. She earned her attorney’s license
and served in private practice for nearly 10 years, before joining Hall
Financial, which is led by Craig Hall.

When Biddle arrived and began reorganizing the legal department, she
also began making it more accessible to anyone in the company with a
legal question. Her team has become an interdepartmental resource.

“I’m very much a people person and I like to serve, so my idea when I
came was to create a small or solo practice within the company,” Biddle
says. “It has become kind of a team-building atmosphere.”

—Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa


Richard Y. Cheng
Senior Care Centers

Richard Cheng has created the legal and medical appeals departments for
two different health care companies: Century Rehabilitation and his
current employer, Senior Care Centers, which generates $310 million in
annual revenue and employs 4,500 people. The accomplished attorney
worked as an occupational therapist for many years before going to law
school, and since then he has taught at two universities and written a
legal chapter in an occupational therapy textbook.

Mark M. Chloupek
LQ Management LLC

Mark Chloupek has served as general counsel for La Quinta Inn &
Suites since its acquisition by affiliates of The Blackstone Group LP in
2006. Since that time, La Quinta has nearly doubled in size, expanding
from 435 to 806 hotels. In spite of the company’s growth, Chloupek has
managed to reduce legal costs by more than 70 percent and decrease
third-party losses on a per-hotel basis by approximately 20 percent.
Chloupek also has served on the board of directors for the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation for more than 10 years.

David Poole
Range Resources Corp.

This past year David Poole led the defense of Range Resources from “a
baseless ex-parte order issued by the EPA,” which claimed that Range had
contaminated a pair of drinking wells in the Barnett Shale. Poole has
plenty of experience in the oil business. He worked as a drilling
engineer out of college, until he decided to attend law school. Then,
before joining Range Resources, he worked at TXU Corp., where he held
the position of general counsel during the company’s $45 billion
leveraged buyout. Poole also is involved in the Boy Scouts of America,
where he serves as general counsel for Circle Ten Council.