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I was born in Methodist Hospital and we lived in Houston throughout my childhood. I was joined by two brothers, David and Jay, and my sister Nanette. I attended Condit and Lovett Elementary, Johnston Junior High (now Meyerland Middle School), and Bellaire High. I had various part-time and summer jobs, including as a peanut vendor for two years at Astros games in 1966-67.
Being accepted at Princeton University was a great honor, and, even though I had a partial scholarship and part-time jobs there, I felt I owed it to my parents to take an extra course every semester and to miss as few classes as possible. I wrote my senior thesis on the Houston Independent School District, which was transitioning (too slowly) from a segregated district to one run by public-spirited citizens who trusted and honored real educators.
I then attended the University of Texas Law School and graduated with honors. I received a coveted clerkship with a federal judge, Joe MacDonald Ingraham. At law school, I met a brilliant woman, now my wife Diana Hudson.
In 1977 I joined the Baker Botts law firm and tried cases and appeals, including a pro bono case for an indigent defendant who received ineffective counsel. The case went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, by which time Mr. Guerra had served his time and been released. In late 1984 I was very proud to be selected as a partner, and I continued to try lawsuits.
Over time I became restless and explored the possibility of starting my own firm. Diana and I agonized over this, and we eventually decided it was a risk worth taking. With two friends who were accomplished lawyers in their own right, I took the leap and we formed our own small trial litigation boutique. Our first office was roughly 1100 square feet. We could hear every telephone that rang throughout the office, and we would all jump to answer, waiting to find out if it carried the promise of a new client.
Our colleagues at our former firms generously referred conflicts to us, sometimes small cases, sometimes larger cases. We were busy from Day One. Twenty-seven years later, our firm now employs 50 people, including lawyers, and has a stellar reputation with clients, opposing lawyers, and judges.
Our firm is a small business. It was– and still remains– an unpredictable adventure. Every time we hire a bright young lawyer, we are doing so with the optimistic view that we will attract clients to keep them busy. Budgeting for the next year is not sheer guesswork, but it requires forecasting an uncertain future.
In the meantime, Diana forged a great career as an attorney. She worked for several years at the Baker Botts firm and then joined a small startup, which later merged into another large firm. Along the way, Diana and I raised our son Will, who was born in 1990, and she became more involved in the nonprofit community. Over time she has served as Chair of the Houston Area Women’s Center, the Lawndale Art Museum, and as an important, involved member of the United Way Board of Directors, as well as the Healthcare and Nursing Education Foundation.
We are very proud of our son Will, born in Methodist Hospital and raised in Houston. Like me, he became a Boy Scout. We attended summer camps while he worked on becoming an Eagle Scout. Will subsequently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt University and then from the Sloan School of Business at MIT. He recently worked for an impact investing firm, has married an outstanding woman, and just joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the meantime, my involvement with Will in Scouting led me to re-engage with Scouting after he graduated high school. I have worked with Scouts in Third Ward since at least 2016, attending meetings, campouts, and summer camps. Watching young boys become young men following the 12-point Scout Law is extremely gratifying. Many of them have become Eagle Scouts.
As you can see, I am proud of my parents, my wife, and my son. For myself, after a long career as an attorney, having built and sustained a small business from scratch, and having met and worked with thousands of people from all walks of life, I have a new goal – to bring integrity, intelligence, and intensity to improving the essential services for all residents in the City of Houston.