Austin partner Christopher Mugica has been selected as the first Jackson Walker LCLD Fellow. The Legal Council on Legal Diversity Fellows program is a year-long commitment that includes in-person conferences and virtual training on the fine points of legal practice, peer-group projects to foster collaboration and build relationships, and extensive contact with LCLD’s top leadership along with managing partners and general counsel who volunteer to share their professional experiences and advice. The goal of the program is to produce a diverse generation of up-and-coming attorneys with strong leadership and relationship skills who are committed to fostering diversity within their individual institutions, and the profession at large. Emerging leaders who have distinguished themselves within their corporation or law firm are nominated by their employer to participate as a Fellow in the program. Each group of Fellows will also serve as mentors to future participants.
Chris is a partner in JW’s Austin office. His practice primarily focuses on commercial conflict resolution in a variety of forums, including mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Chris is also the hiring partner for the Austin office. Chris is well-respected by colleagues, clients, courts and opposing counsel and has received numerous peer recognition awards. Chris received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School.
The most influential person in Chris’ life is his grandfather, who instilled in Chris a strong work ethic and drive to persevere no matter how great the obstacle. Although his parents and siblings were unable to graduate from high school, Chris was fortunate enough to enjoy success through college and law school.
Chris was influenced to pursue a legal career after working for an Austin non-profit organization dealing with at-risk kids. Although he originally intended to continue that career path after graduate education, he quickly realized that he could serve a greater role as an advocate for these children with a law degree. During his summer clerkship with Jackson Walker, Chris was particularly struck by the sense of duty and obligation that most JW attorneys exhibited. Inspired by the opportunity to work for a firm that would allow him to practice law at the highest level while still contributing to those less fortunate, he accepted a full-time position with JW in 1999.
Continuing to answer the call of aiding those who are less fortunate, Chris has been a regular volunteer of pro bono services to the poor, and has represented numerous clients in court actions without charge through Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas. He was previously elected as a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas. Chris was also a 2009 recipient of the Suzanne Covington Award in recognition for his outstanding contributions in providing pro bono service to low income clients.
Austin Managing Partner Matt Dow recently commented on Chris’ dedication, stating “Chris understands that part of our success as a law firm depends on how well our diversity reflects the diversity of our communities and clients. Chris has been instrumental in helping JW make real strides in diversity.”
One of Chris’ clients, Kevin McAlpin, Legal Counsel at Just Energy said, “I had the pleasure of having Chris represent my company, Standard Renewable Energy, in multiple litigation matters. Chris’ thorough preparation for trial work is unsurpassed. Moreover, his personable demeanor won over the jury in a contentious trial in which we were completely victorious. I’ve not worked with a better trial lawyer in commercial litigation!”
His work on behalf of the firm and its clients is gratifying, and he thoroughly enjoys helping clients explore creative solutions to their litigation problems. After twelve years with Jackson Walker, Chris still holds true to his belief that he has chosen the ideal platform to balance civic duty with private practice. He continues to be a successful lawyer while devoting significant time to community involvement.
Chris is a member of American Bar Association, Austin Young Lawyer’s Association, Austin Bar Association, and the Notre Dame Law Association. He is currently co-chair the Travis County Chapter of the National Campaign to Stop Violence. He also serves as co-chair of the Texas Minority Counsel Program’s Steering Committee. He will join the Executive Board of the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 2013.
Chris was also honored as one of the recipients of the “Austin Under 40” Award, given to recognize outstanding Austin citizens under the age of 40. Additionally, he has been selected four times (2008-2010, 2012) as a “Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters – a distinction given to fewer than 2.5 percent of all practicing attorneys in Texas. In 2011, he became a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow, an invitation extended to less than 1 percent of all attorneys in Texas.
Jackson Walker Hosts Reception for African American Men Attending the University of Texas. The reception was held in Jackson Walker’s Austin office on November 28, 2012. Austin partner Leonard Woods coordinated the event, which was sponsored by the African American Male Research Initiative (AAMRI), a division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.
The AAMRI’s mission is to address the severe academic achievement gap that exists between African American males and other demographic groups within education. The program is a mentoring effort for the students and exposes them to local professionals in the community. Leonard was also asked to address the group. In addition to the 27 UT students attending the reception, 16 invited community leaders were also on hand.
CONTINUING TO CULTIVATE COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
Jackson Walker is Top Sponsor for Dallas Women Lawyers Association Annual Judicial Reception. The Dallas Women Lawyers Association (DWLA) held its Annual Judicial Reception on October 11, 2012. Senior counsel Christy Jump in Dallas serves as the President for 2012, and partner Stephanie Osteen serves on the Board as a Director at Large.
DWLA also presented scholarships to two students as part of its new “Study Stipend” program, awarding a scholarship to one student each from SMU law school and TWU law school to assist with expenses incurred while studying for the bar exam.
Jackson Walker is Platinum Sponsor for Association of Women Attorneys Annual Judicial Reception. The Association of Women Attorneys (“AWA”) held its Annual Judicial Reception on October 25, 2012 at the Hotel Alden in downtown Houston. The theme of this year’s event was “Judges Rock.” The reception also honored all members of the Federal judiciary in Houston. JW attendees at the event were Houston partners Jan Chafin, Lisa Powell and Kathy Silver, senior counsel Maryellen Shea, and Houston associates Suhani Akhare, Lindsey Moorhead and Jamila Brinson.
Jackson Walker Sponsors Main Texas Minority Counsel Program (TMCP). This annual TMCP event was held in Houston on October 3 – 4. The conference was designed to provide valuable CLE credit and to give attendees an opportunity to participate in informational interviews to discuss outside counsel opportunities.
Dallas partner Tracey Wallace spoke at this year’s program on the topic of “The ABCs of LGBT.”
The mission of the TMCP is to expand and increase the opportunities for minority and women attorneys to provide legal services for corporate and government clients, and to encourage corporations and government agencies seeking outside counsel to hire and retain minority and women lawyers.
JW attendees at the conference included diversity chair Bruce Ruzinsky, Austin partner and TMCP Steering Committee member Chris Mugica, Dallas partner Tracey Wallace, Austin associate Brian Prewitt, Houston Associate Alia Derrick, Houston Associate Chevazz Brown and Dallas Associate, Shakeeb Mir.
J. L. Turner Legal Foundation has strong support from Jackson Walker – This year marked the 60th Anniversary of the J.L. Turner Scholarship and Awards Gala. The annual gala, which is the largest J.L. Turner fundraiser for scholarships awarded to law school bound college and high school students, was attended by scholarship recipients as well as a host of federal and state judges, state officials, in-house counsel from national and state based corporations, and counsel from various law firms. This year’s event included a reflection on the significance of Texas born cases, including Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, led by guest speaker and Harvard University Professor Lani Guinier. Jackson Walker was recognized and honored with a crystal award for its sponsorship of the gala, and JW associate James McFall accepted the award on the firm’s behalf.
The luncheon is the primary fundraising event for the HBAA Foundation, which awards scholarships that enable economically disadvantaged Hispanic college students to become lawyers and ensure diversity in the legal profession Jackson Walker Supports Hispanic Bar Association of Austin – Hispanic Heritage Luncheon. The 2012 Hispanic Heritage Luncheon was held on October 26, 2012, at the W Hotel in downtown Austin. Judge Jimmie V. Reyna, a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was the keynote speaker for the luncheon. Justice David Medina and Justice Eva Guzman were also special guest speakers.
Attending the event on behalf of the firm were Austin managing partner Matt Dow, Austin partners Chris Mugica, Josh Romero, Marilyn Montano and Monte James, Austin associates Jack Skaggs and Jorge Padilla, and Governmental Affairs Consultant Deidra Garcia.
Jackson Walker Long Time Patron of Dallas Asian American Bar Association (DAABA) – JW has been a sponsor of the DAABA for several years, with Dallas partner Paul Watler coordinating the firm’s sponsorship over the years. This year, Dallas associate Shakeeb Mir was a committee chair of the event. The event was held on October 17, 2012, at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. It featured three keynote speakers: Janet L. Dhillon, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of J.C. Penney, Inc.; Thomas E. Evans, Vice President and General Counsel of Wal-Mart (Merchandising, Marketing and Supply Chain); and Thomas Mielke, Senior Vice President of Law, Government Affairs, and Chief Compliance Officer for Kimberly-Clark Corporation. A private reception was held for sponsors of the event, where guests had an opportunity to network with supporters of DAABA. The awards program honored individuals who have made significant contributions to Dallas’ Asian American and legal communities.
Jackson Walker Supports Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) – The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) held its Annual Event on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at the Belo Mansion in Dallas.
The Annual Event – “Lighting the Path to the Legal Profession” has become a signature event for the DHBA. It joins attorneys, judges, and students in an annual celebration that highlights collective efforts to support educational and diversity initiatives within the legal community. Through this event, DHBA gives all members of the community an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to supporting students and increasing diversity within the Dallas legal community.
This year the DHBA presented its highest honor – the La Luz Award – to Sarah Saldaña, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Ms. Saldaña is the first Hispanic chief federal prosecutor in Dallas, and the first Hispanic woman to hold the position in Texas. Her integrity, talent, accomplishments and commitment to public service made her an ideal candidate for the position. JW joins DHBA in proudly recognizing Ms. Saldaña for her significant accomplishments and contributions.
The DHBA also honored the memory of Frank P. Hernandez, Dallas County’s first Hispanic judge. Mr. Hernandez was truly a trailblazer for Hispanics in Dallas. As a young attorney starting out in 1964, he was one of the only Hispanics handling civil rights litigation in Dallas, and he played a significant role in integrating both the grand jury in Dallas County and the Dallas Independent School District Board. Mr. Hernandez passed away in February at the age of 73, but his impact on Dallas’ courts and schools continues on.
Dallas senior counsel Christy Jump and Dallas associate Matt Acosta, attended the event on behalf of Jackson Walker.
MEET OUR NEWEST DIVERSE ATTORNEY
Nina S. Kang is an associate in the San Antonio office, and a member of the firm’s energy section. Nina received her B.A. from Stanford University and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Prior to joining Jackson Walker, Nina was a legal consultant for SK Innovation Co., Ltd., working at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. In Seoul she provided legal support and advised the growing upstream division, which had a portfolio of 29 E&P blocks and four LNG projects across 16 countries. Nina also worked on M&A transactions related to realignment of the E&P portfolio.
Jackson Walker Sponsors the 8th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference. The conference was held on November 2 and 3, 2012, at the Westin Galleria in Houston, Texas. The conference and job fair is designed specifically for aspiring African American lawyers. In addition to providing empowering information, the conference gives students access to resources and contacts that will assist them in becoming more strategic and competitive law school applicants and law students. The sponsorship also included this year’s Legacy Builders Awards Banquet and Aspiring Lawyers Pinning Ceremony held at the same venue. Jackson Walker donated tickets to future law students who were unable to purchase them.
University of Houston Black Law Students Association’s Annual Scholarship Banquet was held on October 19, 2012, at the Crowne Plaza River Oaks Hotel. The theme of the evening was “Standing on the Shoulders of the Ones Who Came Before Us.” The keynote speaker for the event was Mr. Jim Lemond, University of Houston Law Center Class of 1970. Attending the event on Jackson Walker’s behalf were Diversity Chair Bruce Ruzinsky, Houston partner David Curcio and daughter Hannah Curcio, Houston associates Marisela Pena and Jamila Brinson, and diversity coordinator Alesia Foster.
Jackson Walker Gives to Dallas Bar Foundation’s Sarah Hughes Scholarship. The scholarship was named in honor of the late judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, who was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the federal bench in 1961. The scholarship fund has provided numerous full, three-year scholarships at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Carlos Treviño Named to Austin’s Working Group on Sustainable Development – Austin senior counsel Carlos Treviño was recently named to the newly formed Austin Working Group on Sustainable Development by Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell. Mayor Leffingwell, along with State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, will co-chair the group.
The goal of the Working Group is to make Austin the first region in the United States where EB-5 foreign investment dollars will be primarily focused on clean energy, affordable housing and green jobs. The group will study options for creating a City of Austin sponsored EB-5 Regional Center or work with an existing EB-5 Regional Center to find appropriate local investment opportunities for qualified foreign nationals.
Leonard Woods Speaks on Construction Defect Cases – Austin partner Leonard Woods spoke at The University of Texas School of Law’s 2012 Construction Law CLE course on September 14, 2012, in Dallas, Texas. Leonard’s presentation was titled “Anatomy of a Construction Defect Case.”
Alia Derrick Presents Employment Law Update to Houston TSCPA Foundation – Houston associate Alia Derrick spoke to the Houston Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants Foundation on September 21, 2012, in Houston, Texas. Alia’s presentation was titled “Employment Law Update: Healthcare, 401(k) Plan Fee Disclosures and Fiduciary Responsibilities, and Other Recent Changes.” Her talk also covered important information on the Fair Labor Standards Act and addressed data privacy issues.