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The Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas

Our exclusive list of the Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas. PLUS: pity young lawyers. They have it tougher than the old guard ever did. D Magazine recently sat down with David McAtee, president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, to talk a

David McAtee (front) is president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers
Association, a group that includes (far left) Stephanie Curtis, Trey
Cox, and Ashley Kisner.


Please note that the lawyers name listed in RED link to a profile listed in D Magazine.

Miriam Ackels
Family Law, Webb & Ackels

Jeff Anderson
Family Law, The Andersons
Attorneys and Counselors at Law

Matt Anderson
Patent Law, Davis Munck

Jonathan Bates
Family Law, Burleson, Pate & Gibson

Keith Becker
Family Law, Keith D. Becker

Van Beckwith
Business Litigation, Baker Botts

Keefe Bernstein
Litigation, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Derek Braziel
Labor & Employment, Edwards & George

Murray Bristol
Civil & Criminal Law, Bristol & Dubiel

Lee Brown
Liability, Brown, Sawicki & Mitchell

Kay Lynn Brumbaugh
Antitrust & Business Litigation
Andrews Kurth

Craig Budner
Commercial Litigation, Hughes & Luce

Paul Caver
Corporate/Securities, J. Paul Caver

Ron Chapman Jr.
Labor & Employment
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart

Chris Clark
Commercial Real Estate
David, Goodman & Madole

John Clement
Corporate, Classic Industries

Keith Clouse
Labor & Employment, Clouse Dunn Hirsch

David Coale
Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal

Carlos Cortez
Civil Law, Law Firm of Carlos R. Cortez

John “Trey” Cox
Commercial & Business Litigation
Lynn Tillotson & Pinker

Christina Crain
Family Law, Christina Melton Crain

Rob Crain
Personal Injury, Crain & Montes

Julie Crawford
Family Law
Koons, Fuller, Vanden Eykel & Robertson

Stephanie Curtis
Bankruptcy & Commercial Law
The Curtis Law Firm

R. Scott Downing
Family Law, McCurley, Orsinger,
McCurley, Nelson & Downing

Keith Dugger
Healthcare Law, Stewart & Stimmel

Carson Epes
Family Law, McCurley, Orsinger, McCurley, Nelson & Downing

Joel Fineberg
Plaintiff’s Lawyer
Law Offices of Joel M. Fineberg

Holt Foster
Corporate & Securities
Thompson & Knight

Diana Friedman
Family Law, Diana S. Friedman

Eric Gambrell
Commercial Litigation
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Charles W. Gameros
Civil Litigation
Hoge Carter Holmes & Gameros

Michael Gardner
Business Litigation, Bickel & Brewer

Bob Garrey
Business Litigation, Jackson Walker

Laura Geisler
Personal Injury, Parham, Jones & Shiver

David Genender
Trial, Baker Botts

Paul Genender
Commercial Litigation, Hughes & Luce

Basheer Ghorayeb
Civil Litigation
The Rodriguez Law Firm

Robert Gilbreath
Civil Appellate Law, Jenkens & Gilchrist

Jeff Goldfarb
Commercial Litigation
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Brian Hail
Commercial & Employment Litigation, Godwin Gruber

David Harper
Intellectual Property & Business Litigation, Haynes and Boone

Geoff Harper
Complex Commercial Litigation
Fish & Richardson

Michael Held
Bankruptcy, Jenkens & Gilchrist

John Helms
Commercial Litigation & White-collar Criminal Defense, Fish & Richardson

Carrie Hoffman
Labor & Employment
Gardere Wynne Sewell

Michael Hoffman
Corporate, Vartec Telecom

Thomas Hoffman
Employee Benefits, Hughes & Luce

Michael Hurst
Commercial & Employment Litigation, Godwin Gruber

Monte Hurst
Labor & Employment
Hermes Sargent Bates

Wei Wei Jeang
Intellectual Property, Haynes and Boone

Steve Jensen
Toxic Tort Litigation, Baron & Budd

David Johnson
Litigation, Winstead Sechrest & Minick

Michael Kaeske
Plaintiff’s Litigation, Kaeske Law Firm

Marc Katz
Labor & Employment
Jenkens & Gilchrist

William Katz Jr.
Litigation, Thompson & Knight

Chris Kirkpatrick
Corporate/Securities, White-collar Criminal Defense, Haynes and Boone

Ashley Kisner
Litigation & Environmental Law Strasburger & Price

Richard Krumholz
Litigation, Fulbright & Jaworski

Paul Lackey
Commercial Litigation
Lackey Hershman

Gregory Laird
International Arbitration
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Brad LaMorgese
Family Law, Cooper & Scully

Monica Latin
Litigation, Carrington, Coleman,
Sloman & Blumenthal

Kirk Lechtenberger
Criminal Defense, The Curtis Law Firm

Greg Lensing
Civil Appeals & Litigation
Cowles & Thompson

Chris Lewis
Personal Injury Defense & Criminal Law, Godwin Gruber

Lance Lewis
Insurance Coverage & Business Litigation
Strasburger & Price

Lee Ann Wheelis Lockridge
Corporate, Thompson & Knight

Brant Martin
Personal Injury & Business Litigation Puls, Taylor & Woodson

David McAtee II
Antitrust & White-collar Criminal Defense, Haynes and Boone

Scott McElhaney
Employment, Jackson Walker

Kurt Meaders
Product Liability & Business Defense Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold

Walt Miller
Real Estate, Haynes and Boone

John Molinar
Workers’ Compensation
Molinar & Associates

Daniel Morris
Workers’ Compensation
Daniel L. Morris

William Mureiko
Estate Planning & Probate Law
Thompson & Knight

Todd A. Murray
Securities/Corporate Governance Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal

Brad Nace
Family Law, Brad Nace Esq.

Michael Newman
Corporate Securities & Business Transactions, Gardere Wynne Sewell

Toni Nguyen
Litigation & Technology,

Polly O’Toole
Family Law, Atkins & O’Toole

Kathy Owen
Tort & Civil Litigation, Brown McCarroll

Andrew Payne
Personal Injury, Howie & Sweeney

Eric Pinker
Civil Litigation, Lynn Tillotson & Pinker

Cole Ramey
Civil Litigation, Crouch & Ramey

Todd Ramsey
Personal Injury & Business Litigation Bailey, Crowe & Kugler

Jeff Rasansky
Personal Injury
The Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Rasansky

Eric Reis
Tax & Probate Law, Thompson & Knight

Brian Robison
Business Litigation, Vinson & Elkins

J.R. Rodriguez
Civil Litigation
The Rodriguez Law Firm

Ladd Sanger
Aviation Law, Slack & Davis

Matthew Schindel
Business Litigation, Hughes & Luce

Michael Schmidt
Product Liability & Personal Injury Litigation, The Schmidt Firm

Ellen Sessions
Commercial Litigation
Jenkens & Gilchrist

Bart Showalter
Intellectual Property, Baker Botts

Jeffrey Simon
Toxic Tort Litigation, Waters & Kraus

Renèe Skinner
Intellectual Property Litigation
Law Offices of Renèe Skinner

Eric Stahl
Commercial & Personal Injury Litigation, Vinson & Elkins

Bruce Steckler
Personal Injury, Silber Pearlman

Scott Summy
Environmental Litigation
Baron & Budd

Michael Taten
Corporate, Jackson Walker

Josh Ungerman
Tax, Meadows, Owens,
Collier, Reed, Cousins & Blau

Thomas Walsh IV
Commercial & Patent Litigation
Fish & Richardson

Chris White
Real Estate & Banking
Thompson & Knight

Bryan Wick
Commercial Litigation, Wick Phillips

Kevin Wiggins
Labor, Employment & Benefits
Ohashi and Horn

Douglas Wilder
DWI, Douglas L. Wilder

Robert Witte
Litigation, Winstead Sechrest & Minick

Emeline Yang
Banking & Credit Transactions Winstead Sechrest & Minick

Thomas Yang
Securities/Mergers & Acquisitions Haynes and Boone

Matt Yarbrough
Intellectual Property
Fish & Richardson

Lawrence Youst
Intellectual Property & White-collar Criminal Defense, Danamraj & Youst

Thomas Yoxall
Commercial Litigation
Locke Liddell & Sapp

compile our list of the top young lawyers in Dallas, we surveyed 4,000
of their peers, even those over 40. Voters were asked the following
question: which Dallas lawyers, of those whose work you’ve witnessed
firsthand, would you rank among the current best? Nominated lawyers had
to be younger than 40 as of April 30, 2004. Participants could nominate
only one lawyer from their own firms and two from outside firms.
Same-firm votes counted for less than outside-firm votes. All ballots
had to be signed, and voters had to provide their Texas State Bar
numbers. Self-nominations were not counted, and a distinguished panel
of local attorneys reviewed the final list.


Legal Brief

Pity young lawyers. No, seriously. More than ever, young lawyers
have it tough. Increasingly, they are looking for work with fewer and
fewer jobs available. And once a lawyer is lucky enough to find
employment, he or she is pressured to perform on a higher level than
before with less pay. Plus, they have to put up with all of those
lawyer jokes.

D Magazine recently sat down with David
McAtee to talk about the challenges today’s young lawyers face. McAtee,
35, a business litigation attorney for Haynes and Boone, is
president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (he starts his
presidency in June). Organized in 1930, the TYLA comprises more than
20,000 lawyers who are 36 years old or younger or who are in their
first three years of licensure.

D Magazine: What is the benefit of separating the young lawyers from the rest of the crop?

David McAtee:
Number one, young lawyers are different demographically than old
lawyers. And by “old lawyers,” I mean lawyers older than 37. The group
is more diverse. There are more lawyers in private practice who are
young lawyers than those who are in the senior bar.

Number two,
the challenges that young lawyers face are vastly different than the
challenges that more seasoned lawyers face. As young lawyers, I like to
say that we are in our teenage years of being a lawyer. A lot of
changes happen from the time you graduate law school in your mid-20s to
the time you become old enough to no longer be a young lawyer. And so
we try and focus on those needs.

D: When you say “those
needs,” what specifically are you talking about, besides a support
group and a happy hour and that sort of thing?

First and foremost, it’s just technical competence, learning how to be
a lawyer. If you ask any young lawyer these days, you’d find a general
concern that young lawyers are not being mentored like the prior
generation was. It’s a function of the fact that there were fewer
lawyers. So there was more time, and the economic pressures weren’t as
great. And some of this is looking back with rose-colored glasses, but
there’s a truth to it. Someone has to step in and fill in the gap to
try to offer support, just technical mastery.

D: Are there areas of law that young lawyers are more prevalent in than—oh, let’s continue to call them “old lawyers”?

If you’re asking what young lawyers are most interested in today, what
are the hot areas, the honest answer is today’s young lawyers don’t
have the same luxury to choose a speciality as they once had. In the
late ’90s, during the dot-com boom, young lawyers had a variety of
choices, and you saw people really clumped together, saying, “I want to
do intellectual property litigation.” Or, “I want to do Internet
mergers and acquisitions.” Honestly, today, lawyers are more concerned
about having a job with some security and some sense of their growing
in that job for the long term.

D: Do you feel a pressure
to accomplish X amount before you’re 37? To be a young hotshot lawyer,
you have to be young. Is there sort of a Logan’s Run kind of attitude?

I’m not sure I’d phrase it that way. I think all young lawyers
recognize that the competition to be a good lawyer later on—and I
define good as being someone who people will actually hire—is much more
intense than it used to be. There is a pressure, I believe, that most
young lawyers feel to begin to distinguish themselves as early as
possible in the hopes that when they are 40 years old, 45, and 50, they
are what we call a “go-to lawyer.” I’ve heard nice, warm tales of the
old days when you didn’t have to do that. You kind of grew up in a firm
or you grew up in a solo practice or the government, and you didn’t
really have to unveil your talents until you were 45 or 50, and that’s
when you would become a productive lawyer. To the extent that was ever
true before, it sure is not true now. So I think there is a bit of a
race that [all lawyers feel] they are running to distinguish themselves
as early as they can.

D: What age do you stop feeling
pressure? You have to pick the right undergrad in order to get into the
right law school in order to clerk for the right firm or judge, and
then you’re on the partnership track. At what age is it that you can
relax, be yourself, and just be a lawyer?

McAtee: You’re
describing my life story. The honest answer is there is no such age. If
someone is going along the way saying, “I’m going to endure the stress
now because I want to make it to the next hurdle where the stress is
less,” [he or she is] looking at the game the wrong way. In law, you
will never reach a stage, in my opinion, where that stress is
alleviated. That stress only increases if you are attuned to it. What
you have to do, in my mind, is re-orient the way you think. These
milestones will come and go whether you want them to or not. If you
focus on your work, you focus on your clients, and you focus really on
being the type of lawyer you wanted to be when you went to law school,
they will all fall into place. But, if you start focusing on the
milestones themselves and you forget why you were interested in law in
the first place—how law can help people, why you thought that was neat
when you first figured that out—then you won’t enjoy the process of
getting from one to the other.

D:  Finally, if I were a client and paying you for this, how much would it have cost?

McAtee: How long have you been here?

D: About half an hour.

McAtee: Half an hour would have cost—what’s $350 divided by two?

Photo: Lisa Means

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