Jackson Walker Alumni Newsletter | Spring 2024

May 6, 2024 | Newsletters

View our Jackson Walker Alumni page »

Staying Connected

While we miss having you as part of the Jackson Walker team, we look forward to staying connected through our biannual Alumni Newsletter and our Jackson Walker Attorney Alumni group on LinkedIn. In this newsletter, we spotlight former JW attorneys, review pro bono opportunities and success stories, share the latest news, insights, and events from around JW, and provide helpful resources like free CLE programs.

Share Your News

Have you received an award, participated in community organizations, or been hired or promoted? We want to hear about anything new and noteworthy happening to our alumni. To share your news, you can fill out this form.


Journey through Private Practice to In-House Counsel

Former Dallas partner Brad Nitschke practiced at Jackson Walker for almost 14 years. Now, he serves as Associate General Counsel at Parkland Health & Hospital System. With a legal career spanning both private practice and in-house roles, Brad has gained valuable experience in various aspects of law. Recently, Brad shared what he has been up to in recent years, his experience at Jackson Walker, and what lies ahead for his career. View the Q&A »


Overtime Exemptions Will Now Cost Employers More

By Jackie Staple and G. Scott Fiddler | On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a Final Rule increasing the minimum salary an employee must receive to be excluded from overtime payments. This will result in millions more employees either being entitled to overtime or receiving higher salaries. Previously, updates to salary levels for exemptions could remain stagnant for years or decades and, according to some, were out of touch with current income data.

Federal Trade Commission Issues Rule Banning Non-Competes in the Workplace

By G. Scott Fiddler and Michael Drab | On April 23, 2024, in a 3 to 2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to implement its final rule prohibiting non-compete agreements in the workplace. Scheduled to take effect 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register, the rule makes it an unfair method of competition to enter into or enforce, or attempt to enter into or enforce, non-compete clauses with “employees, independent contractors, externs, interns, volunteers, apprentices, and sole proprietors who provide a service to a person.”

Understanding the New EPA Fees for Oil and Gas Companies

By Taylor Holcomb | Oil and gas companies will soon be required to pay annual fees to the federal government based on their methane emissions. These fees are driven by Congressional directives in the Clean Air Act, but the specifics are currently being worked out by the EPA. The EPA is expected to finalize the rule by the end of the year.

Navigating the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Latest Amendments

By Taylor Holcomb | Public companies should start scrutinizing the final rule now and thinking through how they will adjust their current practices in order to collect and report this newly required information. If the rule survives legal challenges, climate disclosures won’t be required until 2026, but work will be required in the meantime to meet that 2026 deadline.

Artificial Intelligence Comes to Work

By David Schlottman and Shelisa Brock | While we all hope the “singularity”—i.e., the moment AI becomes uncontrollable—is nothing more than the alarmist musings of a vivid imagination, the reality of artificial intelligence has become much more real in just the past few months. Its potential applications and implications for work are both exciting and, in some respects, concerning. But whether the workplace is ready for AI or not, it’s here.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Final Rule on Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under FLSA

By Dawn Holiday | The U.S. Department of Labor’s final rule “Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” went into effect on March 11, 2024.

JW Fast Takes cover art graphic

Jackson Walker Fast Takes Podcast

Future-Ready Business Podcast


Jackson Walker Welcomes New Partners

The firm proudly welcomed the following partners since January 2024:

Heidi Angel
Fort Worth
Trusts & Estates
View LinkedIn »
Neill Fuquay
View LinkedIn »
Joe Magliolo
View LinkedIn »
Danny Nappier
View LinkedIn »

Lynn Sherman
View LinkedIn »

Harry Wolff III
San Antonio
Trusts & Estates
View LinkedIn »

Honoring Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Mary Emma Ackels Karam and Retta Miller shared their personal stories of how they came to be lawyers and how their experiences shaped their careers.

Inspired Long Before I Became a Lawyer

In an article contributed to The Texas Lawbook, Mary Emma shared her family and career story, noting: “My family taught me that service is a way of life, and it is through service that we change the world. Early in my career I made a conscious decision to extend that philosophy to my practice in law. Rather than focusing on getting more clients, or billing more hours, I asked every day what things I could do to be of greater service to my clients.”

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Retta joined the Fast Takes podcast to share her life story and how those experiences have shaped her at Jackson Walker.

“I learned from the people who mentored me and have tried to apply those same techniques and mentoring younger lawyers, particularly women, because I remember when there weren’t women mentors for me and want to be sure that there are women mentors for our young lawyers.”

Client Results

Pro Bono Updates

Supporting San Antonio Food Bank

Karl Baker has undertaken significant pro bono work for the San Antonio Food Bank. His involvement spans three real estate matters, including the removal of a right of reverter at the Food Bank’s main facility and a crucial deal with the City of New Braunfels for the development of affordable housing called the Appleseed Apartments. Karl successfully navigated complex negotiations related to the project’s history, resulting in the transaction’s closure on February 2, 2024.

Karl is currently engaged in a land exchange at the Food Bank’s headquarters, facilitating the expansion of operations through a swap with an adjoining property owner. His commitment to community welfare began with his previous firm, where he initially worked on the reverter matter and volunteered to assist when the opportunity arose.

One of the major challenges faced in the Appleseed Apartments project was balancing the Food Bank’s operational flexibility with the City of New Braunfels’ affordable housing processes and policy considerations. Karl played a pivotal role in resolving these issues, orchestrating a unique negotiation/mediation without a mediator present. His dedication to finding creative solutions allowed both parties to meet their objectives during the challenging back-and-forth negotiations.

The Appleseed Apartments aim to offer affordable housing with a unique model designed to help residents advance up ladders of opportunity. Despite the challenges, Karl approaches his pro bono work with the same dedication and priority as his billable tasks. His expertise proved critical to the success of the Appleseed Apartments project, highlighting the indispensable role of legal support in its realization.

Tulsa PD Project Commutation 

Jackson Walker assists Project Commutation and the Tulsa PD’s office to help prepare for pardons, parole, and commutation hearings before the Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board. Typically, the individuals involved are serving lengthy or excessive sentences, and Jackson Walker is thoroughly examining their complete files, requesting information, and helping the attorneys prepare for the hearings. Jackson Walker offers an outside perspective and provides valuable insights into the status of each case.

However, the swift nature of hearing turnaround times poses a challenge. We often need to request access to documents; some are available online, while others require ordering through government agencies via open record requests, a process that requires specific knowledge and consumes valuable time. We help Project Commutation navigate these processes to obtain more information so they are fully prepared for the hearing and can present the best case to the Pardon & Parole Board. The ultimate goal is to assist these individuals in reclaiming their lives and reintegrating into society as productive and law-abiding citizens.

Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas

Jack Skaggs, Michael Roberts, and multiple other attorneys in our Austin office actively participate in a monthly eviction docket for the Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, a program ensuring “right-to-counsel” for low-income tenants. This initiative, funded by the state, offers legal representation for tenants in civil eviction cases, a rarity where individuals are not typically provided with an attorney. Over the past three years, Jackson Walker has collaborated with this program, making a significant impact in Travis County virtual courtrooms.

In these courtrooms, lawyers represent tenants for free, aiming to prevent eviction judgments. Nearly 80% of cases handled through this program have avoided eviction judgments. However, this includes instances where agreements may be reached where tenants voluntarily leave the property, preventing an official eviction record. Despite the legal success, the filing of an eviction case can still present challenges for tenants in securing future housing.

Once a month, Austin attorneys participate in Zoom courtrooms, where tenants in need are assigned an attorney to assist with their cases. Jackson Walker’s role is crucial in helping tenants secure additional time to address their situations and avoid immediate homelessness. The program addresses systemic barriers, primarily tenants’ lack of understanding of the eviction process.

The program gained significance as pandemic-related tenant protections and moratoriums were ending, leading to a surge in eviction cases. Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas plays a vital role in preventing immediate evictions, offering crucial time to affected tenants. However, challenges persist, such as the unpredictability of the number of tenants seeking help and available attorneys. Attorneys also face challenges due to constant changes in the Texas Property Code, courts’ local rules, and local County- or City-wide ordinances. New laws, like Texas’ “Death Star Bill,” impact eviction procedures, making it essential for attorneys to stay informed.

Two case examples highlight the impact of the program. In one instance, Jack Skaggs secured a favorable outcome for a family facing unsafe living conditions and eviction due to non-payment of rent that the family believed to be justified. In another case, a tenant facing eviction due to medical expenses received additional time to find much-needed support, showcasing the program’s effectiveness.

Despite these successes, ongoing challenges and the evolving legal landscape emphasize the ongoing need for legal aid programs like Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas.

US Supreme Court to Review Conviction of Richard Glossip

The United States Supreme Court on January 22, 2024, granted certiorari in the case of Richard Glossip, who was convicted in 2004 of a murder-for-hire based on the testimony of the confessed killer, Justin Sneed, who struck a deal to avoid the death penalty.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case is a positive step forward in the efforts to ensure access to justice for all and fairness in the process,” said Christina Vitale, who co-led the investigation with Reed Smith LLP and Crowe & Dunlevy LLP. Read more »

Meghan Griffiths Named Practice Leader for Environmental, Regulatory, & Legislative Group

Meghan Griffiths was named the firmwide chair of Jackson Walker’s Environmental, Regulatory, & Legislative practice in February 2024.

“Under Leonard Dougal’s tutelage, the firm has earned a reputation as a powerhouse in Texas for environmental, energy and legislative matters,” Meghan told Law360. “I intend to follow in his footsteps by recruiting top talent to support the growth of these practices and expanding our bench in the areas of energy and water development and infrastructure, as well as other regulated industries.” Read more »

Jackson Walker Elects Five Attorneys to Partnership

Jackson Walker is pleased to announce the election of Shelisa Brock, Tiana DeLeo Dunn, Clinton Kuykendall, Justin Lee, and Brett Reamer to the firm’s partnership. Read more »

Other Recent News


  • Brad Brown, Katherine Staton, and Chris Thompson obtained Board Certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Brad and Katherine are now Board Certified in Aviation Law, and Chris is Board Certified in Insurance Law. This marks the first year that attorneys can obtain certification in these areas. Read more »

Board Appointments: 

Professional Development:

Awards & Honors:


JW Careers

Our JW Recruiting team has posted several openings across the firm. You can visit our Lateral Attorneys page for a look at open positions. Also, please feel free to share opportunities with your networks.

Diversity & Inclusion

Visit our Diversity & Inclusion website. For our quarterly news, see our Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter, Perspectives.

Fast Takes Podcasts

On each episode of our Fast Takes podcasts, JW attorneys discuss quick, actionable takeaways to help you and your business navigate today’s complex, interconnected landscape.

Future-Ready Business Podcast

FRB discusses emerging topics that are quickly affecting everyone, like AI, automation and advanced robotics, cryptocurrency and blockchain, the metaverse, and the continually-evolving tech startup scene.

These materials are made available by Jackson Walker for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.

© 2024 Jackson Walker