-- John Council
-- John Council
Is there a rebuttable or irrebuttable presumption that an attorney had the confidences of all of a firm's clients when he left that firm? According to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it's rebuttable. Several legal ethics experts have said that a ruling to the contrary would have been a disaster for the legal profession in Texas and for any lawyer who has left one firm to go to work for another. Kirk A. Kennedy and Mark A. D'Andrea v. Mindprint Inc. involved a case in which former Jackson Walker senior counsel Kirk Kennedy was disqualified by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge from representing a client in a case in which Jackson Walker represented an adverse party. A U.S. District Court affirmed the bankruptcy judge. Kennedy, now general counsel for Gulf Coast Cancer Center, appealed the decision and argued before the 5th Circuit this month that he did no work on behalf of Jackson Walker’s client Mindprint while at the firm. In fact, he didn’t even know that Mindprint was Jackson Walker’s client while he worked at the firm. But Jackson Walker argued there was an irrebuttable presumption that Kennedy had client confidences. In its decision, the 5th Circuit agreed with Kennedy that there is a rebuttable presumption for lawyers in his position and reversed the U.S. District Court's ruling disqualifying Kennedy. “Under both the Texas Rules and the ABA Model Rules, Kennedy should have had the opportunity to demonstrate that he did not obtain confidential information regarding Mindprint during his time at Jackson Walker. Kennedy presented uncontradicted evidence that he was unaware of Mindprint’s existence . . . during his affiliation with Jackson Walker. In light of this evidence, Kennedy successfully showed that his imputed disqualification ended when he left Jackson Walker; therefore, his representation of [Kennedy's client] D’Andrea did not present a conflict of interest requiring his disqualification,” wrote 5th Circuit Judge Carolyn Dineen King who was joined by Judges Eugene Davis and Fortunato “Pete” Benavides.
-- John Council
Roland Garcia says almost all of the lawyers, judges and legal staffers who come to his annual Halloween party on Oct. 31 will be wearing costumes. (He's pictured at left at his 2007 party with his daughter Kristin, center, and wife Karen, right.) “When else can you act so silly and get away with it – grown adults acting like fools in front of each other,” says Garcia, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig in Houston who says Halloween is his favorite holiday. Garcia says he expects as many as 300 members of the legal community, politicians, neighbors and family to attend the party at his Memorial-area house. “We’ve hired a professional lighting and sound crew. We’ve got a laser light show. We’ve got several mist and fog machines. We will have dead bodies and skeletons through the house. . . . We added a huge Grim Reaper hanging by the front door, which will scare the hell out of you,” says Garcia. “It’s a blast.” Partygoers who want to chat with Garcia this year should look for a Dracula. His wife, Karen, will be dressed as a “vamp vampire,” Garcia says. He warns attendees to be careful what they say, “because everybody’s dressed up and you don’t always know who you are speaking with.” Garcia says he didn’t hold the party last year, because his house was damaged by Hurricane Ike.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
I’ve had many signature styles in my life: pale pink denim (to pair with a Debbie Gibson concert t-shirt) as a kid, black Dr. Martens (worn with absolutely everything, right or wrong) in high school and a baseball cap (to cover up inevitably grown-out roots) in law school. With each phase of my life -- and sometimes with each changing season -- I end up gravitating toward a single piece of jewelry or category of accessory. Until very recently, my signature style piece was the bangle. Lucite or metal, a single bright red one or a stack of three in neutral hues, I found bangles to be a simple and comfortable way to personalize every outfit. (As a result, I’ve amassed quite a collection of them, which I now use as samples or freebies for Wardrobe Peace clients.) Though choosing a bangle for an outfit was such a tiny moment of creativity, it broke up the monotony of an otherwise rather boring routine. And it was a way for me to put my personal stamp on the office uniform for which lawyers are famous.
But a signature look or style doesn’t have to be something you wear every day. The important idea behind a personal statement piece is that it reflects who you are today, in this moment. For example, if you’re drawn to big, graphic prints, experiment incorporating different prints once or twice a week, with a blouse or skirt.
Similarly, a signature style doesn’t have to be worn head to toe. Subtle additions like my bangles, or a long strand of pearls or chunky silver watch are very reasonable and work-appropriate expressions of your personality. Do you have a signature style? This week I asked a few friends to share what their personal statement pieces are. Here’s what they had to say:
This winter, I think I’ll try long scarves. . . .
Kasia Benson is a corporate associate with Andrews Kurth in Dallas. She is also the founder of Wardrobe Peace, which provides sensible, “use what you’ve got” wardrobe consulting services to lawyers and other busy professionals.
John M. O’Quinn of Houston's The O’Quinn Law Firm was driving the SUV involved in the one-car accident this morning that killed the prominent plaintiffs lawyer and a passenger, a Houston Police Department spokeswoman confirms. Spokeswoman Jodi K. Silva says neither O'Quinn nor the passenger was wearing a seat belt. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office confirms that the passenger was Johnny Cutliff. Silva says the speed of the vehicle has not been determined, but witnesses to the accident told police the SUV was traveling between 50-60 miles per hour. Silva notes the weather was drizzly and the road was somewhat slick. The Chevrolet Suburban was traveling out of downtown Houston on Allen Parkway, crossed over a median and struck a tree. O'Quinn, 68, and Cutliff, 56, both were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
While standing in the security line this morning at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport to catch an early flight, former state district Judge Levi Benton extended his hand and warmly greeted one of Texas' greatest trial lawyers, John M. O’Quinn (pictured). Benton could not have known it would be the last time he would see him. O'Quinn, 68, of Houston's The O'Quinn Law Firm, died in a car accident this morning. “I started to say, ‘John, why are you flying Southwest? Where’s your plane? Why are you going through the security like the rest of us guys?” says Benton, now a partner in the Houston office of Strasburger & Price who was on his way to Dallas for a partner meeting. Instead Benton says he and O'Quinn talked about their common friend, South Texas College of Law Associate Dean Gerald Treece, and made plans to have lunch soon. “He was going to a mediation in San Antonio. I don’t know who the mediation was for or whom it was with,’’ Benton says of O’Quinn, who was traveling alone. Later, Benton says he started receiving messages on his cell phone from his law partners saying that O’Quinn had died in an automobile accident in Houston. Benton couldn’t believe it; “I said the media is wrong.” He learned later that reports that O’Quinn and another man had been killed when their SUV hit a tree on the Allen Parkway in Houston were true. “He either changed his mind or missed his flight . . .” Benton says of O’Quinn. “I’m just stunned and saddened. I wish he’d gotten on that plane.” News of O’Quinn’s death spread quickly through Texas’ legal community. “We lost a good friend and a hell of a lawyer. John had his ups and his downs, but he represented a lot of folks that needed help, and they couldn’t get a better job than he would do. It’s a shame,’’ says Walter Umphrey, a partner in Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey who famously partnered with O’Quinn and several other lawyers in 1996 to represent the state of Texas against the tobacco industry in a case that resulted in an enormous settlement. “Just his name on the pleadings and his presence was valuable in evaluation of trial and settlement," Umphrey says of O'Quinn.
-- John Council
State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, announced today that he will seek re-election to his District 108 House seat, not election as Texas attorney general. According to a press release from Branch’s campaign, he received widespread support to run for AG in 2010. Branch, a shareholder in Winstead, writes in the release, “While the prospects for a successful run looked good, with only a month to go now until filing, the prospect of an open seat appears unlikely.” Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, has been contemplating a run for higher office but has yet to announce his plans. A call to Abbott's campaign office was not immediately returned.
-- Mary Alice Robbins