1 From the Dean s Desk Happy New Year from Baylor Law School! We are grateful for the notable achievements Baylor Law notched in 2014 and look forward to another successful year in In this issue of the Rocket Docket, you will learn about the impressive charity work our students, faculty and staff participated in during the Christmas season. It is a joy to see our Baylor Law School family have a significant impact on the local community. And what an impact they had! This Christmas season, our students hosted the 3rd Annual Bell s Hill Elementary School Toy Drive and raised money to purchase 850 Dean Brad Toben toys; our students hosted the 5 th Annual Phi Alpha Delta Professor Auction and raised over $7,400 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (C.A.S.A.); and they participated in the 6 th Annual Professors Bates, Berry and Meier Foosball Tournament that raised money for the Animal Birth Control Clinic. The Women s Legal Society adopted five families at Bell s Hill Elementary School and provided every item (and more) on each of the children s Christmas lists! Our faculty and staff also hosted the 11th annual Caritas luncheon that raised money for Caritas, a local food bank. I was touched by the projects that helped the less fortunate and applaud our Baylor Law School family members for their generous hearts. In this issue of Rocket Docket, you will also learn more about the Hon. William S. Sessions (JD 58) receiving the Morris I. Leibman Award from the American Bar Association, Michele Smith s (JD 92) appointment as the president of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC), and Bryan Blevins (JD 90) being named 2015 President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA). Blevins marks the 6 th Baylor Lawyer to serve as TTLA president since 2002! I hope your New Year is off to a blessed and happy start. Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you through the year. We are proud of our Baylor Lawyers and friends! Baylor Lawyer, Hon. William S. Sessions ( JD 58), received the Morris I. Leibman Award in Law and National Security from American Bar Association The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security presented Judge William Steele Sessions with its Morris I. Leibman Award in Law and National Security. The award, which recognizes lawyers who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to and made exceptional contributions to the field of law and national security, was presented on Nov. 6, 2014, at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
2 Judge William S. Sessions devoted his career to the advancement of the rule of law and administration of justice as a student and vigorous supporter of the United States Constitution, said James McPherson, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security. Following service as an officer in the United States Air Force, Judge Sessions received his bachelor s degree from Baylor University in 1956 and his law degree from Baylor Law School in He was in private practice with the firm of Haley, Fulbright, Winniford, Sessions and Bice from 1958 to He then left to join the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as Chief of the Government Operations Section, Criminal Division. In 1971 he was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, and in 1974 was appointed a District Judge for the Western District of Texas, becoming Chief Judge in Hon. William S. Sessions (JD 58) In 1987, Judge Sessions was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the fourth director of the FBI. Under Judge Sessions, crime prevention efforts were expanded to include a drug demand reduction program. FBI offices nationwide began working closely with local school and civic groups to educate young people on the dangers of drugs. Judge Sessions also oversaw the 1991 creation of the FBI s Operation Safe Streets in Washington, D.C. a concept of federal, state, and local police task forces targeting fugitives and gangs. After leaving the FBI in 1993, Judge Sessions joined Holland & Knight, where his practices focuses primarily on alternative dispute resolution. He served as an arbitrator and mediator for the American Arbitration Association, the International Center for Dispute Resolution, and for the CPR Institute of Dispute Resolution as a District Panelist, National Panelist of Distinguished Neutrals and on the Arbitration Appeal Panel. Judge Sessions is a recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 1988 he was named the Baylor Lawyer of the Year, the highest honor given to Baylor Law alumni. He is also a Lifetime Member of the Baylor Law Alumni Association. He is a former president of the Waco-McLennan County Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association of San Antonio, and the District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit. He also has served, and continues to serve, on numerous governmental and nonprofit boards and task forces. Judge Sessions and his family come from a long line of Baylor Lawyers. Two of Judge Sessions children, Lewis and Mark, are Baylor Lawyers, as are two of his grandsons, Dallas and Anderson. Baylor Law School congratulates Judge Sessions for this well deserved accolade!
3 BRYAN BLEVINS ( JD 90) NAMED 2015 PRESIDENT OF TEXAS TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION Baylor Lawyer, Bryan Blevins (JD 90), was installed as 2015 President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA), a prestigious organization with approximately 2,400 members. TTLA was founded in 1949 and is a professional association comprised exclusively of attorneys whose primary area of practice is representing plaintiffs in the civil justice system. Blevins is an equity partner at Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont, TX. A native of Lufkin, TX, Blevins earned his J.D. at Baylor Law School and was named Young Baylor Lawyer of the Year in Blevins joined TTLA in 1990 and has served on the TTLA Board of Directors since He also has served on the Class Action Task Force, the 2013 Budget Committee and the 2013 Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, he volunteers much of his time to TTLA s legislative efforts. Blevins has earned numerous awards and accolades, including being named among Texas Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. Most recently, he was named 2014 Southeast Texas Lawyer of the Year for Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs, by Best Lawyers in America. Bryan is a member of the Jefferson County, Fifth Federal Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court Bar Associations, and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Bryan Blevins (JD 90) Six Baylor Lawyers have led the Texas Trial Lawyers Association in a recent tight sequence: George Chandler in 2003, John Eddie Williams in 2004, Nelson Roach in 2009, Tex Quesada in 2010, Steve Harrison in 2012, and Bryan Blevins in 2015, said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. Baylor Law School congratulates Bryan Blevins on the high honor of being named President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Michele Smith ( JD 92) Named President of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel Baylor Lawyer, Michele Smith (JD 92), leads the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC) as the president. With a membership of approximately 1700 attorneys, the TADC is one of the largest professional associations of commercial litigation, business defense and personal injury defense attorneys in the United States. Smith has previously served on the TADC Executive Committee and as co-chair of the Trial Academy. She was vice-president for Legislation and for Programs. Smith is also a past recipient of the President s Award.
4 Smith is a past president of the Jefferson County Bar Association and the Jefferson County Bar Foundation. She is a past recipient of the Cris Quinn Award for Community Service and a past recipient of the Jefferson County Young Lawyer Award. She has served on the Pattern Jury Charge Committee and the Eastern District of Texas Local Rules Committee. She is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Houston Chapter. Smith has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Texas Super Lawyers. (Top 100 Attorneys in Texas and one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Texas). She has served on numerous committees for the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court. Smith has more than 20 years of diverse jury trial experience. She is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is a shareholder with MehaffyWeber, P.C. and serves on its Management Committee. Michele Smith (JD 92) Baylor Law students begin interning at Friends for Life with alumna Kristin McDonald Kristin McDonald (JD 12) recently joined Friends for Life in September of 2014 as the Director of Guardianship of Estate. While practicing at a local firm in Waco, Kristin sought unique opportunities that would allow her to give back to the community while utilizing her law degree from Baylor and business degree from Auburn University. A simple application to volunteer with Friends for Life led to much more than she could have imagined. Kristin s first brief interaction with Friends for Life came while working on a guardianship case for a client. Kristin was then re-introduced to Friends for Life at church one Sunday morning when a video explaining the history and mission behind Friends for Life was shown.
5 After hearing Inez Russell, our founder and executive director, talk about Friends for Life, I knew it was something I had to be involved with in some capacity, said Kristin. At Friends for Life, our mission is to help the elderly and people with disabilities live independently as long as possible, protect and care for those who are unable to care for themselves and bring generations together to enrich lives. In carrying out that mission, Kristin s department oversees the financial aspect of guardianship for over 150 clients throughout Texas. Shortly after assuming her position, Kristin realized that an internship program in her department would provide valuable support to her staff and provide invaluable experiences to law students. One thing led to another and now Kristin is using her position at Friends for Life to invest in Baylor Law students. Working with Angela Cruseturner and Daniel Hare in the Career Development Office, she established an opportunity for Baylor Law students to work for a non-profit during their time at Baylor. Each internship is six months long, and interns will assist with various research projects, the drafting of applications, motions, memos and annual accountings, and more. It will be an eye-opening experience, and I am excited to be able to share what we do with the students at the law school, said Kristin. Current Baylor Law students Frances Marshall and Blake Landon are the first to intern with Kristin. After interviewing Frances and Blake, I saw their passion for service and interest in Friends for Life s mission, said Kristin. This internship gives me the opportunity to help others who do not have a voice and are unable to take care of their finances on their own, while also working with estate management, said Frances Marshall. Marshall says the internship allows her to practice professionalism by meeting deadlines and learning to work with others in a professional environment. Additionally, this internship has given me the drive to continue to work hard at school as well as a new found excitement for the work I will be doing after graduating from Baylor Law, said Marshall. While it is a stressful and sometimes thankless job, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to use my education and abilities to help those who literally cannot help themselves, said Kristin. Currently Friends for Life serves clients in over 80 counties and is looking to expand into over 200 counties, focusing on rural areas where there are few or no services offered to assist people with disabilities and the elderly. If you want to learn more about Friends for Life or if you have any questions, please visit www. friendsforlife.org or contact Kristin at
6 Phi Alpha Delta Hosted 5th Annual Professor Auction Benefitting Court Appointed Special Advocates (C.A.S.A.) Baylor Law School student organization, Phi Alpha Delta, raised $7,495 at their 5 th Annual Professor Auction. All proceeds benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (C.A.S.A.) of McLennan and Hill Counties. C.A.S.A. recruits, trains, and empowers everyday community members to advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care. The C.A.S.A. vision is to have a C.A.S.A. volunteer for every abused and neglected child in the foster care system. The money raised by the Baylor Law students will be spent purchasing Christmas presents for the C.A.S.A. children who are in foster care. Over 20 Baylor Law faculty and staff donated an auction event for the students to bid on. Events included Dinner and Baylor Softball with Dean Brad Toben, Homemade Pizza Party with Dean Teague, Skeet Shooting with Professor Guinn, Lunch with Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court, Men s Basketball Game and Dinner with Professor Serr, Sunday Brunch at the Baylor Club with Professor Beth Miller, and many more. The top selling items were two Mystery Events with Professor Bates which sold for $900 and $870, totaling $1,770! Phi Alpha Delta hosted the live auction in the Student Lounge at Baylor Law School. Students, faculty and staff crowded together to watch the live auction. In the end, $7, was raised to benefit C.A.S.A. The C.A.S.A. team was present and incredibly grateful for the Law School s continued support of C.A.S.A. I am amazed by the generosity of the Baylor Law students as they come together year after year to have fun and support the C.A.S.A. mission, said Carrie Tatum, C.A.S.A. supervisor. Phi Alpha Delta is honored to serve the Waco community through this annual charity event. Baylor Law School works closely with C.A.S.A., and the students and professors are eager to donate their time and money to such a wonderful cause. We are happy to serve the missions of Baylor Law School and C.A.S.A. with open hearts. The 5th Annual Professor Auction was a great success, and we are already discussing ways to make next year s event even more successful. After all, it s for the kids, said Kayla Chandler, Justice of Phi Alpha Delta.
7 A special thank you to the students who made the auction possible: Kayla Chandler, Devin Fletcher (outstanding auctioneer), Neha Paymaster, Mark Firmin, Valancy Sissons, Andrew Valencia, Cody Cooper, Elizabeth Brabb, Tara Gough, Amanda Sanchez, and Mason Spiller. I couldn t have done any of this without every single one of them, said Chandler. Baylor Law School thanks the students of Phi Alpha Delta who worked tirelessly to organize the auction, the faculty and staff who donated auction items, and the law students who purchased auction items! Our student body, once again, exudes a spirit of generosity. Phi Alpha Delta Hosts the 6th Annual Professors Larry Bates, Mike Berry and Luke Meier Foosball Tournament On December 17, the Waco establishment of Cricket s was packed with Baylor Law students for the 6 th Annual Professors Larry Bates, Mike Berry and Luke Meier Foosball Tournament hosted by Phi Alpha Delta. The students paid $5 per team to enter the tournament and the competition was quite intense as Professor Bates has an impeccable record. Professors Bates, Meier and Berry Students challenged their professors time-andtime again for the chance to beat them. By the end of the tournament, only one student team came out victorious! The students raised $200, and Professors Bates, Berry and Meier generously matched that amount. All proceeds benefit the Animal Birth Control Clinic. The Animal Birth Control Clinic graciously partners with Baylor Law School to catch, spay and neuter the feral cat population at the Law School. Baylor Law Toy Drive spreads Christmas cheer to 850 local elementary children Baylor Law School is an official Waco ISD Adopt-a-School partner of Bell s Hill Elementary in South Waco. For the past three years, the Law School has raised money to purchase a new Santa toy for every child in the school! For many of these children, this is the only present they receive at Christmas time. At Bell s Hill, 97% of the students are on the free or reduced lunch roll.
8 This year, Baylor Law students raised over $7,000 and purchased 850 new toys for the children of Bell s Hill Elementary School, and also donated money to the Packs for Hope program. Baylor Law s Student Bar Association (SBA) hosted Immunity Day whereby students can purchase one-day immunity from being called upon in class. Each year, the SBA donates the money raised from the Fall Immunity Day to the Bell s Hill Toy Drive. In years past, Baylor Law s SBA has raised about $5,000, but this year the student organization raised over $2,000 more than previous years. After purchasing the 850 toys from H-E-B, we had approximately $2,500 left over, said Meredith Meyer, Special Events Coordinator and Office Manager for the Law School. We saw an immediate need for the extra money to go to Packs of Hope, said Meyer. Packs of Hope supplies eligible students with a backpack of food to keep them fed from Friday through Sunday. Currently, Bell s Hill only has enough money to provide 24 children with a backpack of food for the weekend. With the Baylor Law School donation, Bell s Hill will now be able to double that number and send approximately 50 students home with food on the weekends, said Meyer. Baylor Law School extends a special thank-you to H-E-B on Valley Mills Drive, which is also an Adopt-a- School partner with Bell s Hill. This year H-E-B graciously provided a gift-wrapping station inside the H-E-B store for volunteers to wrap gifts for the children of Bell s Hill. On December 18, Baylor Law students and staff (one even dressed as an elf!) delivered the 850 Christmas gifts to the children of Bell s Hill. Women s Legal Society Adopts Five Families from Bell s Hill Elementary School and Grants their Every Christmas Wish The Women s Legal Society adopted five families 20 kids total from Bell s Hill Elementary School and granted every Christmas wish on their list! This Christmas project has become a long-standing tradition of the Women s Legal Society. Each year, the law students request a list of the neediest families at Bell s Hill from the school counselor. It is always a challenge to narrow the list of neediest families at Bell s Hill in light of the fact that 97% of the children who attend the school are on free or reduced lunch roll.
9 The Women s Legal Society hosted an array of fundraising events, including two bake sales to raise money for the Christmas project. The students baked homemade treats and sold them at the Law School. The Society also had an Angel Tree at the Law School where fellow students could purchase items on the kids lists. They auctioned off gift cards that were generously donated by Themis, BarBri and Kaplan. And last but not least, they raised $400 through private donations. Their fundraising efforts were a success and raised a total of $2,800. The Women s Legal Society had $2,000 saved from last year s efforts, so there was $4,800 to spend on these five families! Next on these students list was to shop for the 20 kids. They made several shopping trips (each lasting several hours) until every item on the lists was purchased. Among the items on the lists were seven bicycles, two tablets, two TVs, a computer, an Xbox, and a PS3! A special thank you to all of the Women s Legal Society officers who made this Christmas project possible including: Valancy Sissons, Kenni Callahan, Monique Molina, Courtney Lewis, and Amanda Crawford-Steger. Thank you to the 1L and 2L members of the Society and Gabby Shayeb who baked goods and worked the table during the bake sales and Angel Tree. The culmination of hard work came to fruition December 17 when the Women s Legal Society hosted a Christmas party and meal at the Law School for the five families. The parents and children filled the Student Lounge at the Law School for a party filled with presents and treats. The Society distributed the gifts and the room was bursting with Christmas joy! These families were incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Society. Without them, Christmas would not have been possible. The Bell s Hill Christmas project is a way for those of us in Women s Legal Society and Baylor Law to pull together to give some of the families in the community gifts and a meal. These families would not ordinarily have the ability to purchase these gifts and meals at Christmas time, said Valancy Sissons, President of Women s Legal Society. As law students and future lawyers, I think it s important to serve those in our
10 community that we live in, and not lose sight of the bigger picture. Providing a few Christmas presents to these families was a small way of taking care of those around us and spreading a little holiday cheer. A huge thanks goes out to the staff and students at Baylor Law School, who were incredibly generous with their time and money in making this possible, said Sissons. Kenni Callahan, Treasurer of Women s Legal Society, said, Providing these presents to the families is a great way for women in the Law School to get involved outside of school and give back to families in this community that otherwise would have no presents this Christmas season. It is easy in law school to get overwhelmed by school work and exams, but the adoption of these families helps keep in perspective that there is more to life than just school and even the little bit we are able to do to provide a family a meal and gifts is beneficial. I think this aspect of the Women s Legal Society shows that, as students at Baylor Law School, we are not only being prepped to become lawyers, but also preparing to be leaders in the community. And, as leaders, we have a responsibility to give back to the community in which we work and live, said Callahan. Baylor Law School is proud of the officers and members of the the Women s Legal Society. You have certainly demonstrated servant leadership and had a profound impact on 20 children and their families. News and Notes Baylor Law School Staff Host the 11th Annual Caritas Luncheon For eleven years now, the staff of Baylor Law School have hosted a Caritas luncheon to raise money for the local food bank. The staff prepares homemade items for a potluck luncheon. Faculty, staff and students then donate money or canned foods as payment for the delicious meal. The Dean s Suite kitchen and hallways are lined with tables full of crock pots, meals, and homemade desserts. The faculty, staff and students enjoy a delicious meal and fellowship time around the Dean s Suite Conference Room table all while raising money for Caritas! Baylor Law advances to the 65th Annual National Moot Court Competition in New York City Baylor Law students Danielle Bennett, Sameer Hashmi and Bree Marquand qualified for the National Moot Court Competition in New York City after finishing as finalists at the Regional Competition in Houston. The team was also recognized for the second best brief. Danielle Bennett was awarded Best Speaker at the Regional Competition.
11 The National Moot Court Competition hosted by the New York City Bar Association s National Moot Court Competition Committee and the American College of Trial Lawyers accepts only thirty teams (two from each region) from across the country. The National Moot Court Competition will take place next month in Feb. of Thirty-five Baylor Law Practice Court students compete in 2014 Mad Dog Competition at Baylor Law; Ryynannen takes home the title. Congratulations to Brad Ryynanen for winning the Matt Mad Dog Dawson Practice Court competition! Brad took home the 18-inch bronze statue of Matt Mad Dog Dawson. This quarter thirty-five Baylor Law Practice Court students competed in the semi-annual Mad Dog Competition. Director of Baylor Law s Practice Court Program, Professor Powell said, The Mad Dog competition gives our Practice Court students the chance to put their trial skills to test in a high-stakes contest with little time for preparation. It really challenges them, and the true advocates with a passion for winning usually rise to the challenge. No other law school in the world has such a competition. It s a Baylor Law creation top to bottom, and we are grateful to our donors Judge and Mrs. Bob Wortham for their generosity in making it possible for every Practice Court class. Congrats to the runner-up and semi-finalists: Runner-up: Brian Price Semi-Finalists: Alexandria Moore Jackie Wheeler Runner up Brian Price and Winner Brad Ryynannen A special thank you to our Baylor Lawyers who judged the final round: Honorable Gary Coley (JD 93), Judge of the 74th State District Court Robert Little (JD 05) of Naman Howell Smith & Lee Colin O Neill (JD 85) of Fullbright Winniford Mike Scanes (JD 83) of Scanes, Routh & James
12 Business Insider ranks Baylor Law No. 22 for Best Law Schools in the nation Baylor Law s impressive résumé earned national praise from Business Insider. Specifically, the publication highlighted Baylor Law s employment rate and Baylor Law s rank as the third-best trial advocacy program in the country, according to US News and World Report. The article emphasized Baylor Law s student-focused environment, where students can customize their schedules along with the flexibility of starting school in the Fall, Spring, or Summer and can take any Fall or Spring term off for a clerkship, internship, or studyabroad program. For more information, visit the Business Insider article: Baylor Law Alumni Network Receptions Your Baylor Law Alumni Team schedules approximately 50 alumni events per year. Many of these events are made possible by Baylor Lawyers and firms who host and underwrite the event. A special thank-you to our recent hosts! Visit to register and RSVP. Houston Baylor Lawyer Network We thank the Hudgins Law Firm for hosting the Houston Baylor Lawyer Network Reception on Thursday, Dec. 4. A special thanks to Baylor Lawyers Gina Fulkerson (JD 83), Spencer Edwards (JD 97), and Eric Nordstrom (JD 02) for hosting the reception. Austin Baylor Lawyer Network Thank you to Jackson Walker, L.L.P. for hosting the Austin Baylor Lawyer Network Reception on Tuesday, Dec. 2. We appreciate Kimberly A. Gdula (JD 08), Andee L. Hartig (JD 12), Monte F. James (JD 92), Marilyn M. Montano (JD 04), Jack E. Skaggs (JD 05), Scott W. Weatherford (JD 11) and Leonard W. Woods (JD 86) who hosted the event. Fort Worth Baylor Lawyer Network We appreciate Whitaker, Chalk, Swindle & Schwartz, PLLC for hosting the Fort Worth Baylor Lawyer Network Reception on Thursday, Dec. 4. Special thanks to Thomas S. Brandon, Jr. (JD 73), David R. Childress (JD 88), Clark Cowley (JD 88), Lyndon Laird (JD 85), Bruce W. McGee (JD 73), Mack Ed Swindle (JD 74) and Wayne Whitaker (JD 71). If you are interested in hosting a Baylor Law Network Reception, please contact Berkley Knas, Director of Alumni Relations, at
13 East Texas welcomes Dean Brad Toben for Baylor Law Alumni Network Receptions On Thursday, January 22, Dean Brad Toben will visit with Baylor Lawyers in Texarkana and Longview. We thank the hosts and steering committee for making these events possible: Texarkana Luncheon Steering Committee: Nelson Roach, Bill Gooding, John Greer, and John Mercy. The Longview Reception will be hosted by Judge Alfonso and Melissa Charles. UPCOMING ALUMNI EVENTS Visit to RSVP. DALLAS BAYLOR LAWYER NETWORK RECEPTION Tuesday, January 13, :00-7:30 p.m. Husch Blackwell LLP 2001 Ross Avenue, Suite 2000 Dallas, TX TEXARKANA AREA BAYLOR LAWYER LUNCHEON Thursday, January 22, 2015, 12:00 p.m. Texarkana Convention Center 4610 Cowhorn Creek Road Texarkana, Texas LONGVIEW AREA BAYLOR LAWYER RECEPTION Thursday, January 22, 2015, 5:30-7:00 p.m. The reception will be held at the home of Judge and Mrs. Alfonso Charles. FORT WORTH BAYLOR LAWYER NETWORK RECEPTION Thursday, February 12, :30-7:00 p.m. Griffith, Jay & Michel, LLP 2200 Forest Park Boulevard Fort Worth, TX 76110
14 ALUMNI NOTES Lt. Col. Joe Hinds (JD 74) Lt. Col. Joe Hind, USAF Ret., organized the Second Annual Tri-State Veterans Day Celebration, held on November 9, 2014, just north of Cincinnati, Ohio. He also organized the inaugural event in Florence, Kentucky, in Hinds served in four military services over four decades as a JAG officer in the Army and Air Force and as a fraud attorney in the General Counsel s Office of the Navy and Marines. Georgia Crump (JD 78) Georgia Crump has been named to Best Lawyers in America for Crump is a principal with Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. in Austin. David Kent (JD 78) David Kent was elected to serve as Treasurer of the Trial Skills Section of the Dallas Bar Association for Kent is Special Counsel for Sedgwick LLP in Dallas. Frederick S. Adams, Jr. (JD 81) Frederick S. Adams, Jr. has taken a new position as shareholder in the KoonsFuller firm in Dallas, Texas. Adams has been selected by Texas Monthly as a Super Lawyer in the State of Texas from Adams is a Lifetime Member of the Baylor Law Alumni Association. Bryan Blevins (JD 90) Bryan Blevins was installed as 2015 President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA), a prestigious organization with approximately 2,400 members. TTLA was founded in 1949 and is a professional association comprised exclusively of attorneys whose primary area of practice is representing plaintiffs in the civil justice system. Blevins is an equity partner at Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont, TX. A native of Lufkin, TX, Blevins earned his J.D. at Baylor Law School and was named Young Baylor Lawyer of the Year in Blevins joined TTLA in 1990 and has served on the TTLA Board of Directors since He also has served on the Class Action Task Force, the 2013 Budget Committee and the 2013 Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, he volunteers much of his time to TTLA s legislative efforts. Blevins has earned numerous awards and accolades, including being named among Texas Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. Most recently, he was named 2014 Southeast Texas Lawyer of the Year for Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs, by Best Lawyers in America. Bryan is a member of the Jefferson County, Fifth Federal Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court Bar Associations, and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation.
15 Michele Smith (JD 92) Michele Smith leads the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC) as the president. With a membership of approximately 1700 attorneys, the TADC is one of the largest professional associations of commercial litigation, business defense and personal injury defense attorneys in the United States. Smith has previously served on the TADC Executive Committee and as co-chair of the Trial Academy. She was vice-president for Legislation and for Programs. Smith is also a past recipient of the President s Award. Smith is a past president of the Jefferson County Bar Association and the Jefferson County Bar Foundation. She is a past recipient of the Cris Quinn Award for Community Service and a past recipient of the Jefferson County Young Lawyer Award. She has served on the Pattern Jury Charge Committee and the Eastern District of Texas Local Rules Committee. She is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Houston Chapter. Smith has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Texas Super Lawyers. (Top 100 Attorneys in Texas and one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Texas). She has served on numerous committees for the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court. Smith has more than 20 years of diverse jury trial experience. She is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is a shareholder with MehaffyWeber, P.C. and serves on its Management Committee. Jonathan J. Bates (JD 93) Jonathan J. Bates of Kinser & Bates LLP in Dallas was recognized as one of the Texas Super Lawyers in He was also elected Vice President of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. Melanie Okon (JD 99) Melanie Okon (JD 99) was named one of the top North Texas energy attorneys in the Dallas Business Journal s 2014 listing of Who s Who in Energy. Okon is a name partner in Dallas-based Estes Okon Thorne & Carr PLLC. David O Toole (JD 03) David O Toole has been appointed as the Clerk of Court Designee for the Eastern District of Texas. O Toole begins his new position in July David is currently the Austin Divisional Office Manager for the Western District of Texas.
16 Craig Stone (JD 03) Craig Stone is Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property for Phillips 66 Company in Houston, Texas. He was recently named a 40 Under 40 by the Houston Business Journal and was a finalist for the Houston Business Journal Corporate Counsel Awards in the Up and Comer category. World Trademark Review also named Stone one of five finalists for Global In-House Brand Counsel of the Year and named his Phillips 66 legal brand team a finalist for Brand Team of the Year in its industry category in Jason T. Hill (JD 04) Jason T. Hill has been named to Best Lawyers in America for Hill is a principal with Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. in Austin. Leiza Dolghih (JD 06) Leiza Dolghih was promoted to Senior Attorney. Dolghih represents Fortune 500 companies, small and midsize businesses, and individuals in all types of commercial and employment litigation in state and federal courts. She is a member of Attorneys Serving the Community and the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. Jay Lea (JD 08) Jay Lea became a partner at Naman Howell Smith and Lee in Austin. Lea s practice is focused primarily on construction litigation, personal injury litigation, eminent domain litigation and business contract disputes. Joe Rivera (JD 08) Joe Rivera became partner at Naman Howell Smith and Lee in Waco. Rivera s practice is devoted to civil litigation, with a focus on business litigation, employment matters, and tax litigation and controversies. Danielle Ahlrich (JD 09) Danielle Ahlrich became partner at Martens, Todd, Leonard & Taylor. Ahlrich s practice focuses on tax litigation. Patricia Jones (JD 10) Patricia Jones joined Fox Rothschild LLP as an associate in the firm s Dallas office. She joined Fox Rothschild s Corporate and Real Estate practice areas and was previously with Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez LLP. Jones handles a variety of real estate and transactional matters, representing clients in all aspects of the acquisition, disposition and leasing of commercial property. Bethany Thompson (JD 10) Bethany Thompson became partner at The Gardner Law Firm in San Antonio. Thompson serves as vicechair of the firm s litigation section.
17 Jared Wood (JD 11) Jared Wood joined the Fort Worth Office of Winstead PC. Wood represents clients in corporate and securities law matters, mergers and acquisitions, SEC compliance, corporate governance, joint ventures and entity formation. Wood graduated from Baylor Law School in 2011 and recently practiced with Cantey Hanger, LLP in Fort Worth. Kristin McDonald (JD 12) Kristin McDonald joined Friends for Life in Waco as the Director of Guardianship of Estate. Kyle Knas (JD 14) Kyle Knas joined Naman Howell Smith and Lee in Waco as an associate in August His practice focuses on estate planning and probate. IN MEMORIAM Hon. Rachel Littlejohn-Diebel (JD 50) Rachel was born June 14, 1922 in Wellingborough, England. She passed away on December 24, She was the eldest of three children-her two brothers, Norman and David, predeceased her. She was studying to become a doctor in 1938 at Cambridge University when World War II broke out. Upon testing by the British government, she was drafted and assigned to work for MI-5 in London. During the bombing of London and the troop buildup for the invasion of Europe she met Lacy Littlejohn and fell in love. When the war was over she and Lacy married in 1946 and they moved to Waco where they both entered Baylor Law School. She was one of three women in law school and graduated in 1950 cum laude. During law school their two children Janet and John were born. After completing law school, the family moved to Beeville. In 1962 to aid with her children s education, she began teaching mathematics at A. C. Jones High School. In 1968 she received a Masters in mathematics from TWU. In 1971 she received a Master from UT in Latin. Rachel was elected to the bench for the 156th District Court in 1974 and served there until her retirement in The judiciary elected her to the Executive Committee of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas , and she became a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Subsequent to the death of Lacy in 1986, she married the second love of her life - Edwin Diebel in They lived a life of immeasurable happiness and laughter until Ed s death in She was a member of First Baptist Church of Beeville where she sang in the choir and taught young ladies in Sunday School for many years.
18 She is survived by her children Hon. Janet Littlejohn and Dr. John Littlejohn and her step-daughter Betty Sue Newton, four grandchildren-hillary Scurtis of Miami, Florida, Elizabeth Littlejohn of Houston, Texas, Neal Littlejohn of Vail, Colorado and Nathan Littlejohn of Napa, California and three great-grandchildren - Jonathan Scurtis, Kristian Scurtis and Rollins Scurtis. She is predeceased by her husbands Lacy Littlejohn and Edwin Diebel and her step-daughter Mary Jean Bevil. John Michael Lee (JD 54) John Michael Lee was born in 1930 in Oklahoma City. He graduated from Baylor Law School in 1954 where he met and married the love of his life, Yvonnne Robbins, formerly of Henderson, Ky. For 19 years, they lived in Abilene, where he became a partner at McMahon, Surovik and Suttle. He moved his practice to Fort Worth until he retired. He was preceded in death by his wife, Yvonne Robbins Lee, and a brother, Harvey Lee. Survivors include is adoring daughter, Marlee Robbins Barton; grandchildren, Will, Avery and Emily Odom; niece, Nancy Turner of Forth Worth; nephew, Anthony Lee of Fayetteville, Ark.; brother-in-law, Dr. Lansdon Robbins and his wife, Anne, of Nashville, Tenn., and their children, Elizabeth Hawkins, Lansdon Robbins III and John Finley Robbins. Frank Dean McCown (LLB 51) Frank Dean McCown of Arlington died Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, having recently celebrated his 87th birthday. Frank came from a pioneer Texas family. He was born at home to Frank Henchman and Martha Dean Mc- Cown in Whitney on Dec. 15, When he was 3, the family moved to Waco where Frank graduated from Waco High in 1945; he was active on the debate team and as a high school yell leader. He attended North Texas State University, did a stint as an enlisted man on active duty with the United States Army in Japan, and then returned to Waco to complete law school with honors at Baylor University in Shortly after completing law school, Frank married his first wife, Joyce Gray, of Denton, and the couple moved to Dalhart where Frank began a distinguished legal career. While in Dalhart he was elected as county attorney and then as district attorney in the state. He later moved his practice down the road to Dumas where he continued to be active in the community, serving on the school board and as president of the Jaycees. In addition to his law practice, he opened a title company. Frank was a pioneer in the Texas Republican Party and ran for state representative in He lost that race in what was then still a Democratic state. Nevertheless, new opportunities opened up, and in 1969, Frank became an assistant United States attorney and chief of the Criminal Division for the Northern District of Texas. In 1972, President Nixon appointed him a United States attorney. He served with distinction in what were some of the happiest professional years of his life. With the election of a new president
19 in 1976, Frank returned to private practice in Fort Worth, where he practiced many more years representing clients in both civil and criminal cases. He was board certified in criminal law. In 1983, he married Ruth Snellings of Arlington, with whom he shared 31 happy years. It is thanks to Ruth that he saw his 87th birthday and passed away in his own home. He was predeceased by his parents; his siblings, Fred McCown, Frances Leady and Horace McCown; and his stepson, David Snellings. He is survived by his wife, Ruth Snellings McCown; his children, F. Scott McCown, Davis Gray McCown and Douglas Wade McCown; his stepchildren, Tommy Snellings, Johnny Snellings, Michael Snellings and Kathryn Magendie; his daughters-in-law, Maura Powers, Lu McCown and Julie McCown; his stepdaughter-in-law, Mary Snellings; his grandchildren, Michael, Katie, Anthony, Maegan, Margaret and Frank Clark McCown; and his stepgrandchildren, Kathryn Leal-Powers, Rachel Snellings and Robin Snellings. Jack Nolan Price (JD 57) Jack N. Price, was born in Willow, Oklahoma in 1934 and passed away on December 1, 2014, due to complications from Alzheimer s disease. Jack grew up in Nederland, Texas and received his bachelor s degree from Lamar University in He received his law degree from Baylor Law School in 1957, where he was a Section Editor of the Baylor Law Review. In 1957, he was admitted to the State Bar of Texas. Jack served as an Assistant Attorney General under Will Wilson from Jack s expertise included general business litigation, antitrust and trade regulations law. Jack began his own legal practice in Austin in 1974 and retired in He was a member of the Travis County Bar Association and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. He chaired both the General Practice and the Antitrust and Trade Regulations sections of the State Bar. He is author of Recognizing the Antitrust Case, published in The Forum in To show his support for education and the legal community, he established the Jack N. Price Endowed Scholarship at Baylor Law School. Jack was an extraordinary person. He served his country as a member of both the Army and National Guard. He was an avid snow skier, enjoying many slopes around the world. Jack loved to fly and was as an accomplished private pilot. His fine reputation among his many colleagues, clients, and friends is only surpassed by his kindness and generosity. Jack is survived by his loving wife, Cindy Price, daughter Jana Cotton and husband Robert, son Jeff Price and wife Shannon, son Jon Price, stepson Dr. Christiaan Webb and wife Audrey. Jack is also survived by his sister, Kathy Kelton and husband Ron, brother Dr. John Price and Jo, and sister-in-law Beverly Price. Jack was also loved and survived by many grandchildren and great grandchildren: Ashley Cotton, wife Lisa and children Tori and Caden; Amber Cotton and children Nolan, Payton and Brandon; Courtney Bennett, husband Samuel and children Nadahlia, Aaron Todd and Jesse James; Jesse, Megan, Justin, Jordan and Jarrett Price; Lauren, Hannah, Christiaan Jr., Chloe, Noah and Avery Webb as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Allen and Marie Price and brothers, Dr. Lynn Price and Dr. Charles Price. Jack will be missed by many.
20 Hon. Walter Lee Johnson (JD 85) Lee Johnson, 54, passed away in Ennis, Texas on Wednesday, November 26, Lee was born in Mt. Pleasant, Texas on May 26, 1960 to Richard Lee and Margaret Ann (Moore) Johnson, Jr. He grew up in Eastland, Texas and graduated from Eastland High School in He went on to Baylor University where he received his bachelor s degree in business and went on to receive his J.D. from Baylor Law School. On June 19, 1982 he married Lori Burleson and they made their home in Waxahachie before moving to Ennis in He served as an Assistant Ellis County District Attorney and was an attorney at the Young, Johnson and Hines Law Firm. He also served many years as a judge for the City of Ennis. He was a member of the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Ennis; he was an Eagle Scout and Troop leader for Troop #205, member of the Ennis Kiwanis, Past President of Ellis County Bar Association, and a member of the Philmont Staff Association. He was a time keeper for the Ennis Lions Football games, and was a big Baylor Bears fan. He is survived by one son, Brian Johnson and his wife, Vicky; one daughter, Katherine Johnson; granddaughter, Annabelle Johnson; his parents: Richard Lee and Margaret Ann Johnson, Jr.; two brothers: Kevin Johnson and wife, Darla and David Johnson and two nephews: Evan Johnson and Connor Johnson. He is preceded in death by his wife, Lori Burleson Johnson.