Deborah Hankinson


Hankinson LLP, an appellate boutique in Dallas launched by former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson in 2008, closed its doors on Sept. 30 with Hankinson and three other lawyers going separate ways.

According to Hankinson LLP’s website, Hankinson opened a solo practice devoted exclusively to mediation, early neutral evaluations, settlement consulting, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution.

As of Oct. 1, Brett Kutnick joined Jackson Walker as a partner in Dallas, and Rick Thompson started his own firm.  As of Nov. 1, Stephanie Nelson will move to Thompson & Knight in Dallas, according to a note on the Hankinson LLP’s website.

Kutnick, who was managing partner of the firm for the last four or five years, said the firm had a good 10-year run.

“Our founding partner wanted to do something different, and so a decision was made to wind down,” he said, adding that Hankinson decided she wanted to focus her practice primarily, if not exclusively, on ADR.

Hankinson said she has devoted about 25 percent of her time to various kinds of ADR since she left the court, but began thinking a few years ago aobut devoting her practice to complex resolution. She said she enjoys the work,and found it difficult at times to meld a complex resolution practice with appeals because of scheduling.

She said the lawyers in the firm decided during the summer to wind down the firm on Sept. 30. While the firm had been in existence for about a decade, she and Thompson had practiced together for nearly 16 years.

Thompson said that while he is currently practicing solo, he is in talks with a firm.

Nelson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Brett Kutnick

Kutnick was one of the founding lawyers at the firm, which initially was called Hankinson Levinger, with Jeff Levinger and Kutnick leaving Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal to join Hankinson at the appellate boutique. Levinger left the firm three years later — in 2011 — to form Levinger PC, and the firm changed its name to Hankinson LLP.

Kutnick said he talked to a number of firms, but it was an easy decision to move to Jackson Walker because he had clerked there while in law school, although he ultimately chose to join Carrington Coleman as an associate.


“I always held Jackson Walker in high regard. I knew the people, and even when I talked with them, it was amazing how many people were still here that were here 23 years ago,” Kutnick said.

Kutnick said Joseph Morris, who was of counsel at Hankinson and had served on the Dallas Court of Appeals, retired as Hankinson shut down operations. He also said Jennifer Stagen, who had been a partner in the firm, is going to do some contract work, including assisting him with a continuing matter.

Related Stories

Another Appellate Boutique Opens for Business in the Big D


5 oral argument tips from former SCOTX justice Deborah Hankinson