Alumni Class Notes

David Johnson, Class of


Michelman & Robinson, LLP (“M&R”) is pleased to announce that David Johnson has joined the firm as a partner. With the hiring of Mr. Johnson, who is based out of M&R’s San Francisco office, the firm adds to its already robust healthcare practice. Mr. Johnson is a seasoned healthcare attorney who primarily represents healthcare plans and providers across a broad range of litigation, transactional and regulatory matters.

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Steven Espenshade, Class of


Steven Espenshade was named a member of Austin-based Pirkey Barber PLLC, one of the largest firms in the United States practicing exclusively in the fields of trademark, copyright and unfair competition law. His practice includes advising clients regarding the selection and clearance of trademarks, obtaining domestic and foreign trademark registrations, and handling trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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Salvador Davila, Class of

Attorney at Law

Salvador Davila, an attorney in the Austin office of Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has been accepted into the Austin Bar/Austin Young Lawyers Association (AYLA) Leadership Academy class of 2018. In his practice at Littler, Davila advises and represents employers, focusing on matters involving discrimination, retaliation, workplace safety, workers’ compensation retaliation claims, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective actions, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance.

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Sherri Eastley, Class of


Sherri Eastley was named a member of Austin-based Pirkey Barber PLLC, one of the largest firms in the United States practicing exclusively in the fields of trademark, copyright and unfair competition law. Her practice includes management of domestic and international trademark portfolios across a wide variety of industries.

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Becky H. Diffen, Class of


McGuireWoods LLP promoted Becky H. Diffen to partner effective Jan. 1, 2018. Based in the firm's Austin office, Becky represents developers, private equity firms, investment banks, and other public and private companies in the renewable energy, energy storage, power generation, and oil and gas industries in complex transactions, including the acquisition, development, joint venture, financing and sale of energy projects and companies.

Michael Whellan, Class of

Armbrust & Brown, PLLC—a distinguished homegrown law firm in Austin—today announced that Michael Whellan, a former president and shareholder of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, will officially join the firm on Jan. 15, 2018. Joining along with Whellan will be Travis Phillips, a former shareholder of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody.
For more than 25 years, Whellan has represented clients in land-use and business matters at the courthouse and before city and county government.

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Daniel O. Ramón, Class of


Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris LLP is pleased to announce that attorney Daniel O. Ramón has been promoted to partner, effective Jan. 1.

“Danny joined our firm as a transplant from Austin, Texas, in 2016, and we have been excited to have him in Kansas City ever since,” said Kim Jones, Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris managing partner. “In that short time, he has quickly established deep roots not only in our law firm and with our clients but also in the Kansas City community."

Kelsi Stayart White, Cameron Byrd, Class of

In October, Cameron Byrd and Kelsi Stayart White won a secured lending federal jury verdict in the Southern District of Texas. Cameron Byrd was first chair, and Kelsi White was second chair. They both practice at AZA in Houston, Texas.

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Ashley L. McMillian, Class of


Susman Godfrey LLP has named Ashley McMillian to the firm’s partnership, effective January 1, 2018.

McMillian has already made her mark at the Texas-based litigation boutique, most recently in energy litigation, as part of the team that won a $43.2 million jury verdict for client Apache, in Apache Deepwater LLC v. W&T Offshore, Inc. She also helped obtain an early summary judgment dismissing a plaintiff’s damages claim of hundreds of millions of dollars for client Hess Bakken, in Spring Creek

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Karen Turner, Class of

Family Law

Karen Turner and Ashley McDowell join to form Turner McDowell, PLLC, in Dallas.

Jay Jackson, Class of


Attorney Jay Jackson of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz has been named to the Texas Super Lawyers list for 2017. This marks Mr. Jackson’s sixth consecutive year of selection to the Super Lawyers list.

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Jamie T. Hall, Class of

Jamie Hall, Land Use and Environmental Attorney and President of the Laurel Canyon Association in Los Angeles, spearheaded an effort to acquire 17 acreas of open space in the Hollywood Hills to preserve as wildlife habitat. The “Let’s Buy a Mountain” project was a collaboration between the Laurel Canyon Association, Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Over $1.6 million was raised to acquire the parcel. Donors included Don Henley.

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Peter Sakai, Class of


Judge Peter Sakai, presiding judge of the 225th District Court, Bexar County, Texas was honored by St. Philip’s College, San Antonio, Texas, to be the 2017 Distinguished Commencement Speaker. The Texas Diversity Council recognized his contributions to the San Antonio community by naming him the DiversityFIRST Individual Award Winner. The Bexar County District Court judges have unanimously elected Judge Sakai to be Local Administrative Judge for a two year term, effective January 1, 2018.

Robert S. Glass, Class of

GableGotwals is pleased to announce Robert S. Glass was selected as a 2017 Oklahoma Super Lawyer in the practice areas of Health Care, Business Litigation and Business/Corporate Law. Robert has been elected to Super Lawyers since 2006.

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David L. Bryant, Class of

GableGotwals is pleased to announce David L. Bryant was named to the Top 50 List of Attorneys in Oklahoma. He was selected as a 2017 Oklahoma Super Lawyer in the practice areas of Business Litigation, Insurance Coverage, and Professional Liability. David has been elected to Super Lawyers since 2006.

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Adam Arikat, Class of

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP announced that Adam Arikat has joined its Dallas office as an associate in the Firm’s Tax, Executive Compensation & Benefits Department. Prior to joining Weil, Arikat served as an Upstream Business Services attorney at ExxonMobil, where he worked on the structuring of upstream transactions, divestments and joint ventures. Arikat earned an Executive LL.M. in Taxation from New York University and previously completed his J.D. at The University of Texas School of Law.

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David E. Keglovits, Class of

GableGotwals is pleased to announce David E. Keglovits (1990) was selected as a 2017 Oklahoma Super Lawyer in the practice areas of Business Litigation, Utilities and Construction Litigation. David has been elected to Super Lawyers since 2006.

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John H. Rule, Class of

GableGotwals is pleased to announce John H. Rule (1977) was selected as a 2017 Oklahoma Super Lawyer in the practice area of General Litigation. John has been elected to Super Lawyers since 2015.

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Lisa T. Silvestri, Class of

GableGotwals is pleased to announce Lisa T. Silvestri (1996) was named as a 2017 Oklahoma Super Lawyer in the practice areas of Business Litigation and Energy & Natural Resources. Lisa was selected to Oklahoma Super Lawyers Rising Stars in 2008 and Super Lawyers in 2013.

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Ryan Gorsche, Class of

Ryan Gorsche was elected by international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP as a new Counsel in the Firm’s Corporate Department.

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Jeff Plotkin, Class of

JD, CPA, Realtor

Jeff Plotkin, UT JD '92 with Honors, CPA, Realtor® & VP of Habitat Hunters, Inc., celebrates his company's win as the Austin Chronicle's "Best of 2017" awards for both Best Realtor® and Best Apartment Locator out of ~3200 other realty companies! Habitat Hunters is one of Austin's oldest, independent, locally owned real estate firms. They handle both commercial and residential transactions. Contact Jeff for expert assistance with all of your Austin area property needs,

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Smita Bhakta, Class of

Kruger Carson PLLC attorney, Smita Bhakta, has been accepted into the 2018 Class of Leadership San Antonio, a highly selective annual program, launched in 1975, which helps to train the city’s next generation of leaders. The 2018 Class (Class 43) will be remarkable because it will integrate San Antonio’s tricentennial into the program.

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Shamus Crosby, Class of


Vinson & Elkins has promoted Shamus Crosby to partner effective Jan. 1, 2018. Crosby’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, including initial public offerings and public and private offerings of debt and equity securities, private equity investments and buyouts, joint ventures and corporate governance matters. His clients include public and private companies, private equity funds and investment banking firms.

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Marisa Secco, Class of


Vinson & Elkins has promoted Marisa Secco to partner effective Jan. 1, 2018. Secco represents individuals and entities in commercial disputes, tax controversies, restructuring litigation and civil appeals. She served as Rules Attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas from 2011-2013, giving her a unique understanding of Texas procedure, and was named in 2014 as one of 20 “Winning Women” by Texas Lawyer.

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Amanda Halter, Class of

Amanda has been promoted to partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. She helps manage and resolve environmental exposures for companies, and is integral to our crisis management team. She negotiates with federal and state agencies on environmental cleanup and natural resource damages liabilities, and performs due diligence on environmental compliance for transactions. She has helped expand services to firm clients, and is helping pursue business around offshore decommissioning liabilities.

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Chris Luna, Class of

Chris Luna was promoted to Vice President, Legal Affairs for MetroPCS, a brand of T-Mobile. In this role, he serves as chief counsel for MetroPCS, leading their legal team and serving as the primary legal counsel for MetroPCS’ senior management team. He is responsible for MetroPCS’ consumer facing legal matters, such as marketing, distribution, consumer litigation, and customer care. He also serves as co-chair of the legal department’s Diversity Task Force.

David Hayden, Class of

Retired United States Army Colonel and Smith Anderson Attorney David Hayden has been appointed by North Caroline Governor Roy Cooper to serve as a Commissioner of the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission (NC MAC). Hayden served as both an Engineer and Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) Corps Officer in the United States Army during a 29 year active military career. He also served on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, participating in many federal government interagency panels and working groups. David brought his extensive experience in government contracting, corporate investigations and employment law to Smith Anderson in 2011.

Robert P. Scott, Class of

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Partner Robert Scott has been named a Law360 2017 MVP in recognition of his hard-earned successes in high-stakes litigation, complex global matters, and record-breaking deals. Robert Scott practices in the area of civil litigation with primary emphasis on toxic tort defense and commercial litigation. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, is certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and is a member of the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.

Mason Hester, Class of

Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. (Munsch Hardt) announces the hire of Mason Hester as Shareholder in the firm's construction practice. The fourth largest city in the country, Houston continues seeing unprecedented growth, and Munsch Hardt has responded by more than doubling its construction practice in the Houston office in the last two years.

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Ima Nsien, Class of

ADLI Law Group, a Los Angeles-based law firm, welcomes Associate Attorney Ima Nsien. Nsien joins the firm’s civil litigation practice focusing on healthcare and family law with a special interest in assisted reproduction technologies (ART). She has experience in a variety of civil matters, all stages of litigation, as well as dissolution, legal separation, support and child custody.

Mary Evelyn McNamara, Class of

Mary Evelyn McNamara, of Rivers McNamara in Austin, has been admitted as a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. McNamara specializes in family law and family law appeals.

Joshua W. Mermis, Class of

Joshua W. Mermis, name partner in the Houston-based litigation boutique West Mermis PLLC, has been recognized on the list of Texas Super Lawyers for the second consecutive year. Mr. Mermis is named to the select list in the area of construction law. For almost 15 years he has focused on the representation of property owners, contractors, and other companies involved in the development of condominium high-rises, master-planned residential communities, single-family homes, and public buildings.

Patrick E. Gaas, Class of

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton announced today that it has opened an office in Houston. With the firm successfully expanding into Dallas in 2015, Kilpatrick Townsend now has two offices in the Lone Star State. A team of 13 deep-rooted Texas attorneys – led by partners Patrick Gaas and Daniel Shank – bring well-recognized practices to Kilpatrick Townsend.

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Brad Caldwell, Class of

University of Texas School of Law graduate Brad Caldwell of Dallas’ Caldwell Cassady & Curry once again has earned a spot on the annual Texas Super Lawyers list, and he also has been named as one of only 25 attorneys in the state on the Lawyers on the Rise list by the publishers of Texas Lawyer newspaper. He was recognized in both listings for his work in intellectual property litigation and business litigation.

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Melissa Bailey, Class of

Melissa Bailey recently joined one of North Carolina's leading law firms, Brooks Pierce, as an associate. She will work in the Raleigh office, focusing her practice on corporate transactional law and commercial real estate law.

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Ana Ward, Class of

Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Ana Ward was appointed as Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Ovid Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focusing on rare neurological disorders. In addition to her J.D., Ms. Ward holds a bachelor of arts in French, a masters of science in molecular biology and a M.B.A -- all from the University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a master of science in bioscience regulatory affairs from Johns Hopkins University.

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T. Ray Guy, Class of


T. Ray Guy, a partner in Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Dallas office, has been named a Texas Super Lawyer. Texas Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from more than 70 practice areas that is based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Though published in Texas through Texas Monthly magazine, the ratings are conducted through a national publication, Super Lawyers magazine, which publishes Super Lawyer rankings in each of the 50 states.

Chris Hamilton, Class of


High-profile Dallas trial lawyer Chris Hamilton and attorney Paul Wingo have teamed up to form Hamilton Wingo, LLP, to represent individuals and companies in high-stakes litigation. The two lawyers’ commitment to fight for justice and their shared passion for helping people in tough legal disputes sparked their decision to establish a new law firm together. The firm's clients include companies in all types of business disputes and individuals seriously injured through corporate negligence.

Mike Hatchell, Class of


Mike Hatchell has joined Haynes and Boone, LLP as counsel in the firm’s highly regarded Appellate Practice. He will be based in Haynes and Boone’s Austin office. Chambers USA 2017 (Chambers & Partners) recently described Hatchell as the “dean of Texas appellate practice.” He has been lead counsel in more than 400 appeals, handling cases in all 14 courts of appeals in Texas and in federal courts across the country.

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John Flynn, Class of


John Flynn was listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 for his work in Litigation Construction and Construction Law.

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Ephraim (Fry) Wernick, Class of

Mr. Ephraim Wernick

Ephraim (Fry) Wernick, '03 has been named Asst. Chief of the international corruption unit within DOJ's Criminal Fraud Section, where he supervises prosecutions of corporations and individuals who violated the FCPA, money laundering, and other criminal laws. In June, Fry also was selected to serve a temporary detail as Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he has been advising on criminal and national security matters. Fry lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Lea and two sons.

Michael Schira, Class of

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP is proud to announce that Michael Schira, a partner in the Vorys Columbus office and a 1990 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, has been included on the 2018 Best Lawyers in America list. Schira was selected as a Best Lawyer in Real Estate Law.

Marvin E. Blum, Class of

Trusts & Estates magazine has announced the winners of its 2017 Distinguished Author awards. Marvin E. Blum, JD, CPA has been named the winner of the Trusts & Estates 2017 Distinguished Author award in the Thought Leadership category. Blum is a nationally-recognized estate planning expert known for creating customized, cutting-edge estate plans. His firm, The Blum Firm, P.C., has offices throughout Texas and has grown to be the largest group of estate planning attorneys in the state.

Carlos Eduardo Cardenas, Class of

Carlos Eduardo Cardenas '80 is serving as the 2017-2018 Chair of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Virginia Hamilton Snell, Class of

Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP is pleased to announce that Virginia Hamilton Snell, Partner and University of Texas School of Law alumna, has been recognized by Woodward White's The Best Lawyers in America©, one of the most highly regarded peer-review publications for the legal profession. Ms. Snell received recognition for her work in the following practice areas:
• Appellate Practice
• Bet-the-Company Litigation
• Commercial Litigation
• Litigation - Securities

Christopher Hawkins, Class of

Sullivan Hill shareholder Christopher V. Hawkins has been appointed Vice President of the California Bankruptcy Forum for the 2017-2018 term. As Vice President, Hawkins will manage the Pro Bono Project and oversee all pro bono efforts of CBF. CBF is committed to supporting pro bono efforts of the various local Bankruptcy Forums and County Bar Associations throughout the state. Hawkins practices insolvency and commercial bankruptcy, business transactions, and commercial and business litigation.

Dana Davis Paul, Class of

Dana Paul, owner of Paul Law Firm, PLLC, has been appointed to the school board for Life Way Christian School in Centerton, Arkansas, a K-12th grade private school with over 500 students.

James P. Hill, Class of

James P. Hill ’78 was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law. Hill is a founding member of Sullivan Hill, member of its Executive Committee and chair of the firm’s Insolvency and Commercial Bankruptcy practice group, Hill practices primarily in the areas of bankruptcy, insolvency and commercial law.

Christopher V. Hawkins, Class of

Christopher V. Hawkins ’ 93 was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law. Hawkins is the Managing Partner of the firm and member of the Executive Committee; he practices in the Insolvency and Commercial Bankruptcy, Business Transactions, and Commercial and Business Litigation practice groups.

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Jamila Mensah, Class of

Jamila Mensah, a Sr. Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston, has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for her work in employment law. Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review.

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