After completing her six-year term as a justice on the 3rd Court of Appeals, Diane Henson joined Austin’s Ikard Wynne as a partner on Jan. 1.
She will be back in the courtroom as an attorney, a role with which she is very familiar.
“I was a trial lawyer for more than 25 years,” Henson says.
After graduating with honors from Drake University Law School in 1979, Henson says she was selected for the Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice. Henson says the DOJ selects people right out of law school to train them to get into the courtroom. She says she appeared before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the first time after being out of law school for only a year.
Henson says she was selected for the DOJ’s criminal division. “I prosecuted corrupt politicians,” she says.
Although working for the DOJ was “a great experience,” Henson says, she decided to enter private practice and joined Austin’s Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody in 1983. She says she became Graves Doughtery’s first female litigation partner in 1986.
Henson says she founded her own firm in 1995 and practiced there until she took the 3rd Court bench in 2007.
In 1992, Henson says she represented female athletes in Rachel Sanders, et al. v. University of Texas at Austin in a Title IX class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Henson says the result of the suit was an agreement by the university to more than double the number of women’s athletic programs and increase the number of athletic scholarships available to women. The case impacted women’s sports in the entire Southwest Conference, she says.
Henson says she will handle complex civil litigation at Ikard Wynne. That will include trying cases, working on appellate matters and possibly doing some arbitration, she says.
— Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.