Bracewell & Giuliani announced April 15 that Kelly Frels (pictured), senior counsel at the firm’s Houston office, received the inaugural Kelly Frels Lifetime Achievement Award from the State Bar of Texas School Law Section.
“It’s an honor to receive it, and it’s even more of an honor to have it named for you,” Frels says.
Frels was one of the lawyers who created the School Law Section in 1971.
After receiving his J.D. in 1970 from the University of Texas School of Law, he joined Bracewell in Houston, Frels says. He says that he spent about 40 years representing public and private schools, independent school districts, community colleges and other public bodies.
One of the things of which he is proudest, Frels says, was his involvement in the legal work to create Houston Community College in 1971.
Frels says he also is proud to have represented the school district in Ross v. Houston Independent School District, a school desegregation case filed in 1956 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston. He got involved in the case in 1971, Frels says, and continued working on it until the district achieved “unitary status” and the suit was dismissed by the federal court in 1983. His work on the case included doing legal work to create the comprehensive school magnet system in 1974 that was the district’s voluntary desegregation plan, Frels says. Frels served as State Bar president for the 2004-2005 term.
— Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.