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Most successful plaintiffs lawyer: George Chandler of Lufkin’s Chandler Law Offices wins hands down for his slick and able representation. “He can make the potential jury panel cry during voir dire.” “His attention to detail is unsurpassed.” Best judge: Even though he’s fairly new, numerous lawyers praised Paul White of Lufkin’s 159th District, who took the bench in March of 2001. And his judicial novice status is probably why lawyers like him. “He’s a relatively new judge, but that’s also a good thing. He remembers what it’s like to be a lawyer, and he actually makes a ruling.” Nacogdoches 145th District Court Judge Campbell Cox II also was mentioned. Craftiest civil defense lawyer: Steve Roper, a partner in Lufkin’s Zeleskey, Cornelius, Hallmark, Roper & Hicks, is a formidable opponent, no matter how good a plaintiff’s tort case is. “He seems to have a way to make it work somehow.” “He’s always had a way of keeping my verdicts down.” Curtis Fenley of Lufkin’s Fenley & Bate also is named as a lawyer plaintiffs attorneys should best be prepared for. Go-to criminal defense lawyer: Lawyers say if they were tossed in jail, they’d first call Nacogdoches’ John Heath Sr. “He’s been doing it a long time, and he is a decent person.” “John is one of these fellows that you want to like.” Lawyer with the best political connections: John Henry Tatum of Lufkin’s Tatum & Tatum, a past Angelina County Democratic Party chairman. His support for the county’s Democratic Party still carries some weight. Lawyer who has the practice that’s the most fun: No one surveyed gave the same answer. But we’ll go with Nacogdoches solo plaintiff attorney Stefan Allen. “He has a real good sense of balance in his life, and I respect that. When I see a guy driving a new Porsche and wearing jeans to work, I think he’s pretty much got it going on.” Best prosecutor: Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington. “He’s fair but tough as nails.” Biggest misconception about practicing in deep East Texas: “That we’re unsophisticated, backwoods simpletons.” “That you can’t make a living. I don’t want to invite anybody over here, but that probably is the biggest misconception.” What’s the biggest drawback to practicing in deep East Texas? Lawyers say one of the best things about practicing there is you see all the same judges all the time. It’s worse if a judge doesn’t like you. “It’s not so lucrative.” “We don’t have an airport nearby, so to get anywhere starts with two hours.” “I would enjoy being exposed to more styles and more business models of other lawyers. When I go to the courthouse and I watch a trial, I’ve watched all of those lawyers.” Source: Anonymous interviews in February with 20 lawyers from Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.

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