Alumni Class Notes

Judge Aurora Martinez Jones, Class of

Judge Aurora Martinez Jones '07 has been elected to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Board of Directors. Currently, her judicial position is dedicated to the child welfare dockets in Travis County including the specialty Family Drug Treatment Court. She is the chair-elect for the Texas Children’s Justice Act Task Force, the past president of the Austin Black Lawyers Association and the former chair of the Austin Court Appointed Family Advocates (CAFA). She is also a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow and a member of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court.

Read More

Joe Hardt, Class of

Joe Hardt is CEO and owner of Presco Polymers LP, a vertically integrated manufacturer of safety marking products and custom engineered films in Sherman, Texas. Previously, he was an attorney at the Dallas law firm, Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC and CEO of AMX Corp.

Samuel Kan, Class of

Assistant Professor of Law

In August 2018, Samuel Kan began serving as the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at Barry University School of Law in Orlando Florida. As Assistant Dean, he will continue teaching tax, estate planning, and criminal law subjects as he taught during the 2017-2018 academic year. He initially joined the Barry law faculty as a tenured track Assistant Professor of Law after becoming a Florida licensed attorney and retiring from the Army JAG Corps, last serving as the Tax Counsel for the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel from 2014 to 2017 at the Pentagon.

Robin L. Miskell, Class of

Member Partner, Dickinson Wright

Chambers 2018 High Net Worth (HNW) Guide has named Robin Miskell a leader in her field. Ms. Miskell is a certified estate and trust law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona. She practices primarily in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, taxation and exempt organizations.

Read More

Reid C. Wilson, Class of


Reid Wilson, chair of the Wilson Cribbs + Goren law firm in Houston, has been elected treasurer of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for 2018–2019.

Thomas Laughlin, Class of

Kirkland & Ellis LLP recently announced that it is expanding with the opening of an office in Dallas. Thomas Laughlin, one of Dallas' top transactional lawyers, will join the new office as partner. Mr. Laughlin focuses on private equity investments, energy transactions and M&A.

Read More

Karra Porter, Class of

Karra Porter has received the Utah State Bar Lawyer of the Year Award. The award is presented to a Utah State Bar member who, over a long and distinguished legal career, has by their ethical and personal conduct, commitment and activities, exemplified for their fellow attorneys the epitome of professionalism; who has also rendered extraordinary contributions to the programs and activities of the Utah State Bar in the prior year. Karra Porter has been President or Managing Director of Christensen & Jensen for 19 years. She is co-chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Crisis Management practice groups, and is one of the most experienced and successful commercial and appellate lawyers in Utah.

F. Daniel Knight, Class of

Texas Lawyer named Daniel as one of 23 "Lawyers on the Rise" in the State of Texas for 2018. Daniel practices in the areas of Admiralty and Maritime law, as well as general and commercial litigation.

Read More

Emerson “Buddy” Banack Jr., Class of


University of Texas School of Law Alumnus Emerson “Buddy” Banack Jr. has been recognized by Texas Lawyer for his significant contributions to the legal profession. Banack, co-founder and shareholder of Langley & Banack, one of San Antonio's largest and locally owned law firms, was awarded Lifetime Achievement. Banack, a distinguished trial lawyer, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1965.

Read More

Becky Diffen, Class of

Becky Diffen has been recognized by Renewable Energy World on its inaugural "Solar 40 Under 40" list of solar industry professionals with unparalleled accomplishments. Diffen previously worked as a utility-scale wind developer before graduating from The University of Texas School of Law, where she now teaches a seminar on electric power and renewable energy law. She also co-founded the Texas Energy Law Association alumni organization at her alma mater and co-chairs the Austin chapter of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE).

Read More

Katie Coleman, Class of

Katie Coleman has been recognized as one of Texas Lawyer’s 2018 Lawyers on the Rise. The award recognizes 23 lawyers under the age of 40 who have made their mark on the legal profession in the Lone Star State. She is a Partner in Thompson & Knight LLP's Austin office, where she practices regulatory and administrative law with a focus on state and federal energy regulations, energy markets, energy litigation and appeals, and government affairs.

Adam Schramek, Class of

Adam Schramek is president of the Austin Bar Association for 2018-19. A commercial litigation partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Schramek plans to focus his term on increasing participation by Austin lawyers in pro bono cases, such as working to reunite immigrant families separated at the Texas border.

Read More

Chari Kelly, Class of

Assistant District Attorney, Travis County

Chari Kelly has been selected to receive the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year Award for Travis County. The award recognizes a prosecutor who has gone above and beyond in prosecuting DWI cases and ensuring that those who drink and drive face the appropriate consequences of their actions. Kelly is the Democratic nominee for Place 3 on the Third Court of Appeals.

Jenny Carroll, Class of

Wiggins, Childs, Quinn and Pantazis Prof. of Law

Jenny Carroll was appointed the Chair of the Alabama State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Jenny is the Wiggins, Childs, Quinn and Pantazis Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law where she teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, juvenile justice and counter terrorism courses.

Steven Dahl Thomas, Class of

Steven Dahl Thomas passed away on June 21, 2018. Born August 25, 1952 in Lubbock, Texas, he was the oldest son of the late James Elbert Thomas and Joyce Dahl Thomas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College (SF74) and a law degree from The University of Texas at Austin. In 1983 he joined the prestigious law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. After six years, he left the law firm and joined Financial Security Assurance as Associate General Counsel.

Eva Sikes, Class of

Eva Sikes is a recipient of an Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate fellowships in the country. Eva is sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. She will be hosted at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., where she will combat displacement and housing instability of low-income homeowners in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas through legal advocacy and outreach.

Read More

Reema Ali, Class of

Equal Justice Works has selected Texas Law alum Reema Ali for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate fellowships in the country. Reema will be hosted at the Equal Justice Center, where she will build a new model of integrated employment-and-immigration legal services for vulnerable immigrant working families by combining employment law expertise with immigration law expertise. She is sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Read More

Danielle (formerly David) Healey, Class of

Senior Principal

Danielle Healey, a senior principal at Fish & Richardson, the largest intellectual property law firm in the country, was named a top “Band 1” IP attorney in Texas in the 2018 edition of "Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business."

Ryan Chargois, Class of

Partner at Foster LLP

Ryan Chargois was honored in Who's Who Legal 2018 as a leading corporate immigration attorney. Ryan is a partner at Foster LLP and leads the global immigration practice out of the Austin office.

Avalyn Langemeier, Class of

Partner of Foster LLP

Avalyn Langemeier was honored in Who's Who Legal 2018 as a leading corporate immigration attorney. Avalyn is Partner at Foster LLP and assists employers, including companies, universities, and hospitals, as well as physicians, nurses, researchers and professors, executives, teachers and other professionals in obtaining work visas and permanent residence.

Charles C Foster, Class of

Chairman of Foster LLP

Charles C. Foster was honored in Who's Who Legal 2018 as a leading corporate immigration attorney. Foster is Chairman of Foster LLP, Honorary Consul-General, Kingdom of Thailand (Houston) and Vice Dean of the City's Consular Corps.

Megan Gray, Class of

Megan Gray has resigned from the Federal Trade Commission to join DuckDuckGo as its General Counsel and Policy Advocate. She will be based in Washington, DC. DuckDuckGo is an online search engine that protects users' privacy.

Rachel E. Ehlers, Class of

Rachel E. Ehlers has joined national workplace law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. as Of Counsel in its Austin, Texas office. Ms. Ehlers specializes in corporate governance and internal investigations, data privacy and cybersecurity, and workplace training. She has served in multiple in-house legal and compliance roles, in all sizes of companies—from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Salvador Davila, Class of


Salvador “Sal” Davila, an attorney in the Austin office of Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has been named president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin (HBAA). Davila’s appointment became effective May 23 after he served a one-year term as president-elect. Davila has been an active member of the HBAA for nearly six years.

Read More

David Hoffman, Class of


David Hoffman, a principal at Fish & Richardson, the largest intellectual property law firm in the country, was named a top IP attorney in Texas in the 2018 edition of "Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business."

Ashton G. Cumberbatch, Jr., Class of

McGinnis Lochridge welcomes Ashton G. Cumberbatch, Jr. as a special counsel in the firm, effective May 1. His primary practice areas include alternative dispute resolution and labor-employment law. He is rejoining McGinnis Lochridge after working at the firm previously from 1989 to 2002, including a period as leader of a period as leader of the employment law section.

Read More

James W. Larimore, Class of


James W. Larimore was honored in the Chambers & Partners 2018 USA Directory in the corporate/commercial area of legal practice. Larimore is an attorney in Crowe & Dunlevy's Oklahoma City office.

Michael J. Gibbens, Class of


Michael J. Gibbens was honored in the Chambers & Partners 2018 USA Directory in the litigation: general commercial area of legal practice. Gibbens is an attorney in Crowe & Dunlevy's Tulsa office.

Raymond A. Villareal, Class of

Raymond A. Villareal's first novel entitled "A People's History of the Vampire Uprising" will be published on June 5, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company. Film rights were sold to 20th Century Fox in a pre-empt deal in 2017. There is plenty of case law in the novel so Raymond made good use of his law degree!

Read More

Jocelyn Tau, Class of


Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has promoted Jocelyn Tau to partner. Jocelyn focuses her practice on federal income tax law with an emphasis on domestic business transaction planning. She has significant experience advising publicly traded partnerships on capital formation, ongoing qualification, and acquisition and disposition activities.

Read More

Britney Harrison Dieng, Class of

Family Law Attorney

GoransonBain family law attorney Britney Harrison Dieng has made her debut appearance on the Super Lawyers 2018 Texas Rising Stars list. This recognition places her among the only 2.5 percent of Texas' nearly 97,000 attorneys who receive the annual honor.

Read More

Kelly Caperton Fischer, Class of

Continuing the legacy of leadership, Goranson Bain Ausley family law attorney Kelly Caperton Fischer has been honored with inclusion in the Super Lawyers 2018 Texas Rising Stars, rating her among the only 2.5 percent of Texas' nearly 97,000 attorneys who receive the annual honor. This is her fifth appearance on the Rising Star list.

Read More

Dave Wishnew, Class of

Dave Wishnew proudly announces the launch of his firm, Crawford, Wishnew & Lang PLLC. Dave has a diverse litigation practice with a primary focus in business, employment and intellectual property disputes. SuperLawyers named Dave a Rising Star each year since 2012, including Top 100 in 2017 and 2018. D Magazine recognized Dave in its Best Lawyers in Dallas and Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2018. News agencies across the country published stories of Dave’s client, after awarding her $1.08 million.

Read More

Gil Guethlein (née Gillespie), Class of

Senior Landman

Gil Guethlein (née Gillespie), class of 2011, has been named one of Denver Business Journal's Top Women in Energy. This annual list honors 40 risk-takers changing the energy industry in Colorado.

Read More

Scott Tuthill, Class of

Scott Tuthill has joined the Dallas office of Jackson Walker as a partner in the firm's real estate practice group. His practice includes commercial real estate transactions, particularly those involving the acquisition, financing, development, management, leasing, and disposition of office, industrial, multifamily, and retail development projects.

Read More

Jim Hill, Class of

Sullivan Hill is pleased to announce that Jim Hill, has once again been recognized by the independent attorney rating service, Super Lawyers. Hill has been selected to the Super Lawyers list for the last 12 years in the areas of Bankruptcy, Business Litigation, and Creditor Debtor Rights.

Read More

James McNeel, Class of

James McNeel has joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka as a shareholder in its San Antonio office. His practice will focus on fiduciary litigation in the area of estates, trusts, contested guardianships, and other related litigation. He will handle claims by and against estate administrators, trustees, beneficiaries, and closely held family businesses in all areas of law related to estate, trust, guardianship, and tax-related litigation.

James E. (Jim) Smith, Class of

James (Jim) Smith recently joined the Crain Caton & James (CCJ) law firm as Shareholder in the Environmental and Intellectual Practice Areas. His practice principally focuses on environmental matters including counseling, supporting transactions, and trying cases. He also has experience in intellectual property matters and is registered before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a patent attorney.

Ryan Gorsche, Class of

Ryan Gorsche, class of 2007 and member of the Order of the Coif, has been named 2018 Texas Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Texas Rising Stars is an annual list of exceptional lawyers in the state who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, and who are either 40 years old or younger or have been practicing for 10 years or less.

Daniel Sternthal, Class of


Daniel Sternthal, a shareholder in the Baker Donelson's Houston office, will be ranked in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA as a leading practitioner in the area of healthcare.

John Schwartz, Class of

My new book, “This is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order,” is being published by Penguin Random House on April 3. Part personal finance guide and part memoir, the book has some fun memories of my days in Austin at UT and UT Law.

Read More

S. Camille Payton, Class of

Greensboro attorney S. Camille Payton of Ward Black Law was recently inducted as a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. This national organization honors those attorneys who have distinguished themselves in the field of workers’ compensation. Nominees are selected based on the outstanding traits they have exemplified in their practice of twenty years or more.

Read More

Diana Perez Gomez, Class of

Diana Pérez Gomez has joined Chamberlain Hrdlicka as a shareholder in its Houston labor and employment practice. At Chamberlain Hrdlicka, her practice will focus on complex labor and employment disputes in state and federal courts. She will also serve as a mediator on a variety of civil matters.

Sabine Romero, Class of

Scripps College chose Sabine Romero as their 2018 Lois Langland Alumna-In-Residence. As the 2018 LLAiR, Sabine presented a series of career-inspired events, themed "Open Government: Ten Ways to Make a Difference in the World".

Read More

David A. Breston, Class of

David A. Breston

David A. Breston is a criminal defense attorney who works in Houston. He is a proud graduate from the 1997 class and has built a name in the community of Houston for being a top-rated criminal defense attorney and Immigration lawyer at The Law Offices of David A. Breston. Additionally, David has taught seminars at Princeton and is a proud member of several associations in Texas such as the American immigration lawyers association and the Texas criminal defense lawyers association.

Read More

F. Daniel Knight, Class of

Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry elevated Mr. Knight to Shareholder in January 2018. He practices in Houston in the areas of Admiralty & Maritime law as well as Commercial Litigation.

Read More

Robert E. Booth, Class of


Robert E. Booth has been elected Managing Partner of Mills Shirley LLP with offices in Galveston and Houston. Mills Shirley LLP has 18 attorneys and is recognized by the State Historical Survey Committee as the oldest continuously operated law firm in the State of Texas.

Michelle Michaelsen Alden, Class of

Last year, Ms. Alden was named the Director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and received the Pro Bono Coordinator Award from the State Bar of Texas.

Read More

Michelle Schulz, Class of


Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, continued its Texas expansion with a team of five international trade lawyers and business professionals, led by partners Michelle Schulz and Elsa Manzanares in Dallas. The group joins Akerman's Government Affairs and Public Policy Practice Group from a regional law firm, where Schulz and Manzanares served as co-chairs of the International Trade Group. Schulz also served as chair of the International Practice.

Read More

Martha Todd, Class of

On February 1, 2018, Martha Todd joined McGinnis Lochridge—a legal fixture in Austin for 90 years—as Associate. McGinnis Lochridge has a strong presence in Austin and Houston, providing legal counsel on business and financial matters, and advocating for clients before administrative agencies, at the state capitol, and in courthouses across Texas and throughout the Southwest.