Jackson Walker is pleased to announce the election of 16 attorneys to the firm’s partnership, marking our largest number of partnership promotions to date. On Friday, February 10, 2023, the following attorneys were named partners:
- Austin: Bart Cicuto, Allyn Hurley, Amanda Neinast, and Cade Satterfield
- Dallas: Minoo Blaesche, Sara Harris, and Brian Merkley
- Fort Worth: Jarrod Cone, Brett Epstein, and Jeff Gilmore
- Houston: Genevieve Graham, Jonny Heins, Veronica Polnick, Noah Speck, and Jackie Staple
- San Antonio: Zachary Zurek
Meet Our Newly Elected Partners
Minoo S. Blaesche focuses on business and commercial litigation. She handles a wide array of complex litigation for a variety of clients, including high-stakes matters for many financial institutions. In 2021, she was selected to participate in the Dallas Bar Association’s WE LEAD program. Outside of the firm, Minoo serves as an avid volunteer for Cycle for Survival.
Dallas litigation partner Paul C. Watler stated, “My blood pressure goes down when Minoo takes charge of a case for me. She gets it done right, always with a smile, always calm, cool, and collected.”
She obtained both her B.A., with distinction, and J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Bart J. Cicuto advises some of the most prominent lenders, developers, sellers, and purchasers in the Texas commercial real estate and finance market and beyond. He has honed his expertise specifically in construction, development, and acquisition finance for multifamily, warehouse, office, and mixed-use developments; home builder lines-of-credit; the negotiation of purchase and sale transactions; development agreements; property management agreements; easements; and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
Steven R. Martens, chair of the Real Estate practice, stated: “Bart is proactive and has direct contact with our clients. He knows when to ask questions or confirm his decisions. In short, Bart practices law like a partner.”
Bart is a member of the Urban Land Institute and the Real Estate Counsel of Austin. He obtained his B.A. from Bucknell University while playing baseball, and his J.D., cum laude, from Temple University School of Law, while chasing kids.
Jarrod Cone assists clients with the acquisition, disposition, financing, and leasing of commercial property, including office, retail, medical, and industrial projects nationwide. In recognition of his work, Jarrod was named among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Real Estate Law in 2023.
“One of Jarrod’s best qualities is that he cannot quit until the job is done right. He has a genuine care for his clients and wants to deliver the best possible product. His ‘client first’ attitude is one of the many reasons he will make a great partner,” Fort Worth real estate partner Joel Heydenburk noted.
Outside of his practice, Jarrod is a member of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth and serves as a Young Leadership Council Member. He obtained his B.S. from Louisiana State University and his J.D. from University of Georgia School of Law.
Brett M. Epstein handles the acquisition, disposition, development, and leasing of various types of real estate projects, including commercial, multifamily, mixed-use, and raw land assets. In recognition of his practice, Brett has been named among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch since 2021 and as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in 2022.
“Brett is one of the most motivated lawyers I have ever worked with. His superpower is his uncompromising care for our clients,” Joel Heydenburk stated. “Brett is very successful because he’s unwilling to provide work product to the client that is anything less than excellent.”
Brett is a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Tarrant County Bar Foundation. He obtained his B.A. from the University of Georgia and his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law.
Jeffrey R. Gilmore primarily represents aerospace clients in litigation and aircraft transactions. Jeff has experience in complex product liability cases, multi-district royalty litigation, fiduciary litigation, probate matters, power-of-attorney disputes, trade secret litigation, and the arbitration of a business divorce. He also serves as the live TV host and color commentator for the world’s only private aircraft auction that is presented quarterly by his client, Assent Aeronautics. In recognition of his practice, Jeff has been named to the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch list since 2021, as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2021, and to the “Top Attorneys” list by Fort Worth Magazine in 2022.
“Jeff Gilmore will make a great partner because he has grit, dedication, and his loyalty to his team members and clients is unwavering. You can count on Jeff when needed,” said Dallas partner Katherine Staton, who leads the Aviation group.
Outside of his practice, Jeff is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Twin Cessna Flyers, is a University Little League Coach, and is a Volunteer Pilot for Pilots ‘n Paws. He received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Genevieve M. Graham represents companies in middle market and large complex commercial reorganizations and liquidations. She has experience across many industries, including energy, retail, financial services, and healthcare. In recognition of her practice, Gen has been named among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch since 2021 and as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2018.
“Gen is unflappable under pressure – calm, cool and always collected, her mission discipline is inspiring,” said Houston partner Bruce J. Ruzinsky, who chairs the firmwide Bankruptcy, Restructuring & Recovery practice.
Outside of her practice, Gen serves as the Events Chair of the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation and as a Founding Member of the Houston Bar Association LGBTQ+ Committee. She is also a member of the Houston Young Bankruptcy Lawyers, the Houston Young Lawyers Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, and the Young Lawyers Committee of the State Bar of Texas Bankruptcy Section. She obtained her B.B.A. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Sara K. Harris advises clients on regulatory compliance matters, focusing in particular on employment matters that arise in the healthcare industry. She also regularly defends companies in discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, government investigations, and healthcare litigation.
“Sara’s brilliant analytical mind and her problem-solving approach make her the go-to attorney for many different sections at the firm,” said Healthcare Practice Chair Virginia Alverson Mimmack.
She has been recognized among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Labor and Employment Law – Management since 2022 and as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in 2022. Outside of her practice, Sara serves as a Young Lawyer Editorial Board Member of the The American Lawyer and as a Board Member of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
Sara obtained her B.A. from New York University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.
Jonny Heins focuses on commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions and divestitures, leasing, park development projects, renewable energy projects, and oil and gas surface transactions. Prior to joining Jackson Walker, Jonny managed Permian Basin real estate development, surface, and government relations at a company that acquires, develops, and explores for oil and natural gas properties in the Permian Basin.
“Jonny is one of the most unflappable people I have ever come across,” said Houston real estate partner Vytas A. Petrulis. “Being cool under fire is great, but also being capable and effective really makes for a winning combination.”
Outside of his practice, Jonny serves as an officer of the Midland Downtown Park Conservancy and a trustee of Trinity School in Midland, Texas. He obtained his B.A. from George Washington University and his J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.
Allyn E. Hurley advises borrowers, lenders, and investors in a wide array of financing transactions, with a focus on real estate financing, including substantial work involving construction lending and office, multi-family, and industrial projects.
“Allyn is a joy to work with. She tackles any project – no matter how large or fast-moving – with an unfailingly positive attitude,” said Austin real estate partner Michelle Moore Smith.
Outside of her practice, Allyn is involved with RECA and the Terry Foundation. She obtained her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law.
Brian Merkley advises individuals and closely held businesses with preparing and implementing plans that preserve and transfer wealth, achieve business objectives, minimize transfer taxes, and provide creditor protection. Board certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Brian’s areas of focus include estate planning, wills, trusts, business planning, and probate.
“Brian is an exceptional attorney and colleague,” said Dallas partner Claire N. Raggio, who leads the city’s Trusts & Estates group. “His combination of both substantive expertise and strong interpersonal skills is not often found in Trusts & Estates lawyers. Brian has a keen ability to balance the technical and practical sides to planning, and clients love him.”
In recognition of his work, Brian has been named a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in the area of Estate Planning and Probate since 2017. He obtained his B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Oklahoma and his J.D. from Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Amanda L. Neinast focuses her practice on trusts and estate planning. A noteworthy portion of her practice is devoted to advising owners of mineral interests regarding transfer techniques designed to avoid further fractionalization of interests and she counsels fiduciaries seeking to perfect the chain of title for mineral interests during the probate process and properly document testamentary transfers. Prior to Jackson Walker, Amanda served as Assistant In-House Counsel for a land brokerage firm located in Midland, Texas.
Sam K. Hildebrand, chair of the Trusts & Estates practice, noted, “Amanda is a highly skilled trusts and estate practitioner. She has an ability to communicate complicated concepts in understandable terms. Clients love her.”
Amanda has been recognized among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Trusts and Estates since 2021 and was named a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation in 2020. She received her B.A. from Texas State University and her J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law.
Veronica A. Polnick represents consumers and businesses in bankruptcy including representation in heavily contested matters. Veronica also has experience litigating claims for discharge injunction violations, automatic stay violations, dischargeability actions, and other various consumer claims in bankruptcy court. In recognition of her work, Veronica has been named among the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch since 2021-2023 and as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2018.
“Veronica’s expertise in bankruptcy law and procedure, her strategic planning and case preparation, her advocacy skills, reliability and responsiveness, her consistently going the extra mile for clients and colleagues, and her ability to run a case from beginning to end all contribute to her being an essential part of our team,” said Bruce Ruzinsky.
Veronica is Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Outside of her practice, Veronica is the Immediate Past Chair and Board Member of the Houston Bar Association Bankruptcy Section, a Board Member of the Houston Association of Young Bankruptcy Lawyers, and a member of the Houston Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the International Womens’ Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, and the Texas Bar College.
She obtained her B.S. from San Diego State University and her J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Cade Satterfield focuses on all aspects of the private equity spectrum, including the creation of platforms for investment fund sponsors, structuring, formation and offering of private investment funds and the associated negotiations with institutional limited partners, and underlying portfolio level deal work. In 2022, he was recognized as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers.
Austin partner Cale McDowell, a co-leader of the Investment Funds team, stated, “Cade has earned the trust of our clients, who rely on him to provide thoughtful, creative, and practical legal advice. He is a key member of our private equity team and a wonderful friend and colleague.”
He received his B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, his M.B.A. from SMU Cox School of Business, and his J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law.
Noah Speck represents public and private companies in a wide variety of corporate matters, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, securities, corporate governance, and corporate finance. Since 2021, Noah has been named a “One to Watch” in the areas of Corporate Law and Mergers and Acquisitions Law by Best Lawyers.
“Noah is the consummate team player and a highly valued member of our healthcare merger and acquisition practice,” said Houston healthcare partner Barron P. Bogatto. “He can always be counted on and never hesitates to jump in when an emergency arises.”
He received his B.B.A. and M.P.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and his J.D. from NYU School of Law. Prior to law school, Noah practiced as a Certified Public Accountant, working for both a Big Four accounting firm and a San Antonio-based Fortune 50 energy company.
Jackie C. Staple advises companies on employment law compliance, drafts employment agreements, and litigates claims arising from the employer-employee relationship. Since 2021, Jackie has been named among the list of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in the areas of Labor and Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment, and Education Law. She was also recognized as a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in 2022.
“Jackie is smart, thorough, and always ahead of the deadline. When she is working on a matter, you know it is going to be done excellently and on time,” said G. Scott Fiddler, who leads the Houston Labor & Employment practice.
Jackie is board certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She obtained her B.S., cum laude, and M.A. from Case Western Reserve University and her J.D., summa cum laude, from Cleveland State University College of Law.
Zachary C. Zurek represents businesses, banks, construction companies, families and individuals, fiduciaries, and healthcare professionals through litigation in both state and federal courts. Zach has also represented clients in FINRA, AHLA, AAA, JWA, JAMS, and private arbitrations. In recognition of his practice, he has been recognized as a Texas Rising Star for Business Litigation by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2019 and as a “Best S.A. Lawyer” by San Antonio Scene magazine since 2018. He was also invited as a Fellow of both the Texas Bar Foundation and the San Antonio Bar Foundation in 2020.
“Zach is the kind of partner that will show up to help you out anytime and anywhere—and do it with a smile on his face,” said San Antonio litigation partner Jeff T. Harvey. “I am honored to call him a partner.”
In addition to his practice, Zach volunteers his time as a Director of the Federal Bar Association, President of the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, and a Barrister of the William S. Sessions American Inns of Court. He received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and his J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Since Jackson Walker’s founding in 1887, our attorneys have represented some of the most influential companies and business leaders in the world. Today, we remain firmly rooted in Texas while serving clients around the globe. With more than 450 attorneys across seven offices, we are the largest firm in Texas and have been recognized by Law360 as a “Texas Powerhouse” and an “elite law firm” that regularly provides counsel to industry-leading clients on highly complex transactions ranging from millions to billions.