To most people, the legal profession is about rules. To Paul Watler, it’s about freedom.
Nationally recognized for his expertise in media law and commercial litigation, Paul sees his role as freeing his clients to achieve their goals without getting bogged down in legal hassles.
“In every business, there are certain principles that are core to the company’s mission and purpose,” Paul says. “The challenge for a good litigator is to understand what those are and incorporate them into everything we do, so that we can ensure we’re protecting what matters to our clients and helping them accomplish their key objectives.”
Paul has spent 30 years defending his clients’ interests in court, providing advice, and serving as an advocate on legislative issues. As a trial lawyer, he focuses his practice on complex commercial and media litigation and has successfully argued dozens of cases in state, federal and appellate courtrooms. He has represented a cross-section of leading Texas corporations in matters ranging from aviation to water rights. For example, in a highly-publicized “David v. Goliath” case involving the Wright Amendment, he won a key decision for a startup airline fighting for the right to fly long-haul out of Dallas Love Field.
Some of his most high-profile victories have been on behalf of media clients, who have come to see Paul as a trusted ally. He has won several significant cases on behalf of longtime client The Dallas Morning News, including defending the newspaper against allegations of computer hacking in connection with its report of the “confession” of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh — one of the first major news stories broken via the Internet. More recently, Paul represented The News in its successful effort to obtain a tape recording of a police visit to the home of Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway.
Whether cross-examining the Dallas Mayor or the CEO of a major corporation, Paul is comfortable in the courtroom, and that provides a tremendous benefit to his clients. “Having significant trial experience means that your adversaries respect you and your clients have the confidence that if a case does go to trial, you can prevail,” he says. “You are then able to bring that experience to bear to obtain the best possible result for the client, whether it’s settling a case, mediating a case or taking it to trial.”
“I work with clients to objectively analyze their business and take the best, practical course that will enable them to achieve their goals without getting mired in litigation.”
– Paul Watler
Paul’s experience also enables him to help clients develop successful strategies to avoid litigation. For example, he works closely with his media clients to ensure that their hard-hitting investigative stories can withstand legal scrutiny without sacrificing the integrity of their work. Clients’ projects such as WFAA-TV’s series on a fake-drug scandal in Dallas and KHOU-TV’s Firestone tire exposé have won some of the most prestigious awards in journalism, and an investigation by The Dallas Morning News received the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. With corporate clients, Paul takes a similar approach. “I work with clients to objectively analyze their business and take the best, practical course that will enable them to achieve their goals without getting mired in litigation,” he says.
For Paul, dedication to client success doesn’t end in the courtroom. He also serves as an advocate before the state legislature, helping shape laws that make it easier for his clients to do business. For example, Paul played an active role in the passage of the Texas Free Flow of Information Act in 2009, which enacted a shield law for journalists. Paul has served as president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, served several terms as chair of the Media Relations Committee of the Dallas Bar Association, and recently completed a term as chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the State Bar of Texas.
Whether winning cases or drafting legislation, Paul’s willingness to go the extra mile for clients has gained the respect of his clients and peers. Because of his groundbreaking work in media law, Texas Lawyer named Paul the “Go-To-Lawyer” for Media Law, while his versatility has earned him recognition as one of The Best Lawyers in America in four categories: Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, First Amendment Law, and First Amendment Litigation.
Although each client’s needs and priorities differ, Paul brings the same dedication to each case: “It takes hard work, preparation, and commitment to your client’s interests,” he says. “You have to be able to find out what’s important to them and then fight for it.” Knowing that Paul has what it takes to fight those battles and win gives his clients the freedom to focus on the things that matter most to their business.