The Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas

Every field, even law, can count among its members honest, hardworking people who would be a joy to sit next to on a long car trip. So our exclusive list of the city’s best attorneys under 40, then, are the men and women whom you’d want, if not riding sho

No other profession is more maligned than that of an attorney. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got your doctors and your rocket scientists. They get a lot of respect. Recently, firefighters have seen the public’s appreciation for their work grow—and deservedly so. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got your politicians and journalists. And just beyond them, you’ll find lawyers. These people do not dash into burning buildings. It’s true. But that doesn’t mean they should be scorned or made the butt of bad jokes. Every field, even law, can count among its members honest, hardworking, civic-minded individuals who would be a joy to sit next to on a long car trip.

Which brings us to our list of the “Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas.” These are the men and women whom you’d want, if not riding shotgun from here to Salt Lake City, then by your side on your day in court. This list of 119 lawyers is the ne plus ultra of jurisprudence. (They even know some Latin.) Understand that there are more than 3,000 lawyers under the age of 40 in our survey area, meaning that these 119 individuals comprise the top 4 percent.

Which is not to suggest that these folks are above doing a little politicking. When we surveyed 5,000 area attorneys about their peers, it apparently caused quite a hubbub (for more on how we compiled the list, see “How We Did It,” p. 102). “I don’t know if you all know the effect D Magazine had on the legal community,” says one lawyer on the list, who asked to remain nameless. “I mean, it was unbelievable. When those surveys came out, there were e-mails going back and forth. It’s the lawyers under 40 who are unfortunately the more gossipy of the group.”

And the hubbub didn’t subside, even after the voting was over. When one lawyer on the list received a letter of congratulations, informing him that he’d been named one of the “Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas” by a prestigious magazine, he thought his partners were playing a prank on him. He called the D office to make sure the letter was legitimate.

Another lawyer on the list, after receiving his letter, called with a most unusual request. He explained that he was one of the youngest partners at his firm. Furthermore, he said, another partner several years his senior, yet still under 40, had failed to make the list. Fearing the wrath of his elder, he asked that we remove his name from the list. Sorry, he was told, in so many words, but the list is the list.

Finally, an odd coincidence came to light once our crack team of listaticians analyzed the list: there are at least two married couples on it. Kay Lynn Brumbaugh, 34, is an antitrust litigator with Strasburger & Price. She’s married to D. Forrest Brumbaugh, 35, a corporate transactional attorney with Winstead Sechrest & Minick. They wed in 1995 and have two children, ages 1 and 2, and, as you might imagine, their lives can get hectic. Like the time when their firstborn was 5 months old and Kay Lynn had a big out-of-town trial and was gone for two months.

“It takes a great spouse and a great nanny,” Kay Lynn says. “I have to give Forrest a lot of credit.” And, she hastens to add, she has wonderful kids and an understanding firm.

All very sweet. But we’re talking type-A attorneys here. And even though Kay Lynn pretends it’s no big deal, she ranks sixth on our list of 119 best lawyers under 40—while her husband comes in at a lowly 20th. Really, she says, their rankings will not be an issue at home. Kay Lynn says she won’t even post the list on the refrigerator and gloat.

“I don’t believe her,” says 36-year-old Eric Gambrell, who is not only good enough friends with the Brumbaughs that he asked for their blessing to name his 3-month-old son Luke because the Brumbaughs’ 2-year-old is named Luke and both Lukes are in the same play group, but he, Eric, is also the topmost lawyer on the list and he’s married to Elizabeth Gambrell, 34, who tied for 88th. Clear?

Four lawyers, each under 40. Two couples. Two children per couple. Two Lukes. One play group.

Eric is a civil trial lawyer with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. His wife Elizabeth is an appellate lawyer with Rochelle Elrod Hutcheson. They got married in 1996. And Eric is a little more candid about his ranking. As stated, he came in at number one. This will be used as ammunition in the Gambrell household.

“Elizabeth will continue to remind me that she had close to a 4.0 at UT,” Eric says. “I will continue to remind her that I edged her out slightly in law school. She will remind me that she edged me out on the bar exam. And I will then counter with the D Magazine list. So, for the moment, the ball’s in my court.”

Eric is active in the Republican Party and in the Dallas Bar Association, which goes a long way in explaining his top spot. But he also sounds like a good lawyer. When asked how big his ego was, he took a moment and then answered, “Bigger than it should be.” A brilliant non-answer answer. Eric is also smart enough to know that he’ll get his “fair share of ribbing” for being named the best lawyer under 40.

So to the other 118 people whose names appear under Eric’s: the witness is all yours. Have at him.

How We Did It

To compile our list of the 119 best lawyers in Dallas under 40, we surveyed 5,000 of their peers—even those significantly longer in the tooth. Voters were asked the following question: which Dallas lawyers, of those whose work you have witnessed firsthand, would you rank among the current best? Nominated lawyers had to be younger than 40 as of April 30, 2002. Voters could nominate only one lawyer from their own firms and two from outside firms. Same-firm votes counted for one point; outside votes were weighted more heavily, counting for 1.5 points. All ballots had to be signed, and voters had to provide their Texas State Bar numbers. Self-nominations were not counted (some lawyers will try anything).


The Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas

1 Eric Gambrell
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, civil litigation

2 Michael Louis Kaeske Jr.
Kaeske-Reeves, L.L.P., general negligence/toxic torts/product defects/medical malpractice

3 Kathy J. Owen
Brown McCarroll, L.L.P., toxic tort litigation

4 Tim Durst
Baker Botts L.L.P., intellectual property and technology

5 Michael K. Hurst
Godwin Gruber, P.C., commercial and employment litigation

6 Kay Lynn Brumbaugh
Strasburger & Price LLP, antitrust/business litigation

7 Keith A. Clouse
Clouse & Associates, labor and employment

8 Thomas Yang
Haynes and Boone, LLP, securities/mergers and acquisitions

9 Christie N. Williams
Tom Mills & Associates, L.L.P., federal and state criminal defense

10 Lisa Winston Sorrell
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., labor and employment

11 Mel D. Bailey
Bailey, Crowe, & Kugler, personal injury/business litigation

12 Patrick Strauss
Hallett & Perrin, P.C., commercial litigation

13 Joel S. Reed
Centex Development Company, L.P., general corporate/commercial litigation

14 Alfred G. Kyle
Bracewell & Patterson, L.L.P., real estate/energy/finance

15 Tom Nelson
Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, corporate and securities

16 Jeff Bragalone
McKool Smith, business litigation

17 Stephanie D. Curtis
Law Offices of Stephanie D. Curtis, commercial bankruptcy

18 George R. Milner III
Milner, Goranson, Sorrels, Udashen and Wells, criminal law

19 Thomas A. Greenwald
Goranson, Bain & Larsen, L.C., family law

20 D. Forrest Brumbaugh
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., corporate/taxation

21 Geoffrey S. Harper
Fish & Richardson P.C., complex commercial litigation

22 Rudy Rodriguez Jr.
American Eagle Airlines General Counsel, corporate counsel

23 Michelle E. Roberts
Roberts & Smaby, PC, commercial litigation/bankruptcy

24 Charles W. Gameros Jr.
Lynn Tillotson & Pinker, LLP, litigation

25 Brett Johnson
Fish & Richardson P.C., complex litigation

26 Jordan Cowman
Baker & McKenzie, international/labor and employment

27 T. Andrew Dow
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., commercial real estate

28 Jeffrey B. Simon
Waters & Kraus, toxic tort

29 Dawn M. Douthit
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., corporate/taxation

30 Christina Melton Crain
Christina Melton Crain, P.C., guardian ad litem/mediation

31 Matthew E. Yarbrough
Fish & Richardson P.C., civil litigation

32 Craig W. Budner
Hughes & Luce, LLP, litigation/reorganization and bankruptcy

33 David Emmons
Baker Botts L.L.P., corporate and securities

34 Lawrence R. Youst
Smith, Danamraj & Youst, intellectual property

35 Brad L. Whitlock
Jackson Walker L.L.P., business transactions/intellectual property

36 R. David Wheat
Thompson & Knight LLP, Y, tax litigation

37 Jeffrey H. Rasansky
Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Rasansky, P.C., medical malpractice/nursing home abuse

38 Kevin E. Oliver
Cooper & Scully, personal injury defense

39 C. Mark Brannum
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., business restructuring/bankruptcy

40 Mike Alessio
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., commercial real estate

41 Wei Wei Jeang
Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr, P.C., Y, intellectual property

42 Bruce W. Steckler
Morgan & Weisbrod, medical malpractice/personal injury litigation

43 David H. Harper
Haynes and Boone, LLP, business litigation/intellectual property/media law

44 J. David Washburn
Arter & Hadden, corporate and securities/mergers and acquisitions

45 Emeline Yang
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., banking/credit transactions

46 Maria Katina Karos
Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP, commercial litigation/toxic tort defense

47 Diane M. Sumoski
Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, L.L.P., business litigation

48 Jeffrey M. Becker
Haynes and Boone, LLP, intellectual property

49 Phillip B. Philbin
Haynes and Boone, LLP, business and intellectual property litigation

50 Robert M. Manley
McKool Smith, commercial and intellectual property litigation

51 Andy Payne
Howie & Sweeney, personal injury

52 Stephen M. Pezanosky
Haynes and Boone, LLP, business reorganization/bankruptcy

53 Robert J. Witte
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., litigation

54 Brad M. LaMorgese
Holmes Woods & Garza, family and appellate law

55 Eric W. Pinker
Lynn Tillotson & Pinker, LLP, civil litigation

56 R. Jay Tabor
Weil, Gotshal & Manges, corporate/mergers and acquisitions

57 Thomas J. Morris
Jameson and Dunagan, P.C., commercial litigation

58 Bart Showalter
Baker Botts L.L.P., Y, intellectual property and technology

59 Miriam L. Ackels
Webb & Ackels, family law

60 Elizann Carroll
Strasburger & Price LLP, construction/
fidelity and surety/intellectual property litigation

61 Darin M. Klemchuk
Thompson & Knight LLP, intellectual property

62 Michael W. Shore
Shore Deary, LLP, medical malpractice/patent litigation

63 James K. Burnett
Burnett & Trahan, personal injury/surrogacy law

64 Ashley T. Kisner
Strasburger & Price LLP, litigation/environmental law

65 Jody Rudman
United States Attorney’s Office, criminal prosecution/appeals

66 Ann Marie Arcadi
Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, L.L.P., litigation

67 Amy K. Bock
City of Dallas, civil rights/class actions/housing issues

68 John T. “Trey” Cox III
Lynn Tillotson & Pinker, LLP, commercial litigation

69 Karin R. Crump
Law Office of Karin R. Crump, PC, litigation/family law

70 Melinda Hartman Eitzen
McClure, Duffee & Eitzen, family and collaborative law

71 Joel M. Fineberg
Law Office of Joel M. Fineberg, P.C., catastrophic injury/wrongful death

72 J. Holt Foster III
Thompson & Knight LLP, corporate and securities/technology/intellectual property

73 Cindy Kang
Haynes and Boone, LLP, immigration/international

74 Dennis M. Lynch
Figari, Davenport & Graves, civil litigation

75 Paul A. Martin
Vinson & Elkins LLP, real estate/business

76 Christopher D. Ray
Thompson & Knight LLP, corporate and securities

77 Steve Schortgen
Baker Botts L.L.P., intellectual property and technology

78 Andrew M. Trusevich
Quilling, Selander, Cummisky & Lownds Attorneys at Law, PC, civil trial/labor and employment

79 Alan M. Utay
Alliance Data Systems, corporate and securities

80 Jason E. Winford
Jenkens & Gilchrist, P.C., labor and employment

81 L. James Berglund II
Thompson & Knight LLP, business litigation

82 Ron Chapman Jr.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., labor and employment

83 Brian N. Hail
Godwin Gruber, P.C., commercial and employment litigation

84 Scott H. Palmer
Law Offices of Scott H. Palmer, P.C., criminal defense/personal injury

85 Thomas B. Walsh IV
Fish & Richardson P.C., complex civil litigation

86 Stacey C. Jernigan
Haynes and Boone, LLP, business reorganization/bankruptcy

87 Albert C. Tan
Haynes and Boone, LLP, finance/international

88 Jeffrey O. Anderson
The Anderson Attorneys & Counselors at Law, family law

89 Lee Brown
Russell, Brown & Sawicki, products liability

90 Christopher I. Clark
Jenkens & Gilchrist, P.C., commercial real estate

91 Joe Cox
Hughes & Luce, LLP, litigation

92 Elisabeth Evert
Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, LLP, intellectual property

93 Scott Frenkel
Frenkel & Frenkel, P.C., nursing home negligence/pharmaceutical products liability

94 Elizabeth Reding Gambrell
Rochelle Elrod Hutcheson, LLP, appellate law

95 David M. Genender
Baker Botts L.L.P., trial

96 Robert B. Hale
Hughes & Luce, LLP, corporate and securities

97 P. Gregory Hidalgo
Vinson & Elkins LLP, corporate law

98 Brian C. Jobe
Wimer & Jobe, business and employment litigation

99 Brian E. Robison
Vinson & Elkins LLP, litigation

100 Victor D. Vital
Haynes and Boone, LLP, business litigation

101 Craig N. Adams
Baker Botts L.L.P., corporate and securities

102 Craig A. Albert
Strasburger & Price LLP, business and commercial litigation

103 Beth W. Bivans
Hughes & Luce, LLP, litigation

104 Jason B. Cagle
Vinson & Elkins LLP, corporate law

105 Sam Dalton
Vinson & Elkins LLP, litigation

106 Dawn Estes
Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P., business and technology litigation

107 Jeffrey Goldfarb
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, civil litigation

108 Brett C. Govett
Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., civil litigation

109 Michael S. Held
Jenkens & Gilchrist, P.C., bankruptcy/reorganization

110 Michael Hoffman
Harris, Hoffman & Didlake, PC, personal injury

111 Jennifer G. Jackson
Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP, litigation

112 James “Jim” McCown
Jackson Walker L.L.P., litigation

113 Kevin D. McCullough
Rochelle Elrod Hutcheson, LLP, bankruptcy/creditor’s rights

114 Mary A. McNulty
Thompson & Knight LLP, tax controversies and planning

115 Holly O’Neil
Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P., bankruptcy

116 James Robert Prince
Thompson & Knight LLP, corporate reorganization/bankruptcy

117 Joel Reese
Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C., litigation/dispute resolution

118 Whit Roberts
Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP, corporate and securities/mergers and acquisitions

119 Michael A. Swartzendruber
Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., business litigation


For their invaluable assistance, special thanks to Jim Coleman, chairman of  D Magazine’s advisory panel and chairman of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal; the Dallas Bar Association; and the State Bar of Texas.

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