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Title: Deputy Attorney General for Litigation Location: Austin Age: 44 A Sea Change In two short years as a deputy attorney general, Edward D. Burbach has successfully lobbied for substantial pay increases for his lawyers, streamlined case processing to save hundreds of lawyer hours per year, and updated and standardized the lagging technology his litigation section uses. Not bad for a maritime lawyer with no political ambitions. Burbach is everything the Texas Office of the Attorney General was looking for, says first assistant Barry McBee: “Top quality, experienced trial lawyer, one who would fit into an outstanding team, would be able to manage and go to trial, and really lead that group of 200 lawyers.” Maritime lawyers, a breed apart, have to hold their own on issues ranging from piracy to personal injury on the sea. Burbach says this background is extremely useful as he navigates a varied docket and the 11 litigation divisions he took over in 2003. One of his first orders of business was to address the office’s 40 percent turnover rate among lawyers. Many young lawyers go to the AG’s office purely for a few years of training, but more might have stayed over the years had the office’s pay not been in the bottom quartile for government lawyers, Burbach says. He has been able to bump that up to the top quartile, including a 20 percent pay increase for the newest lawyers. Burbach credits Attorney General Greg Abbott with going to bat for his lawyers, securing pay increases through a raise in fees for reviewing municipal bonds. “We’ve been able to recruit very well, and now we’ve been able to keep people that were going to leave,” Burbach says. Attrition also was affecting the quality of work, as institutional knowledge left along with departing lawyers. To address that, and what Burbach calls the frightening inefficiency of the division’s technology, he centralized the technology, reduced the wide array of software applications being used on various computers and plans a state-of-the-art management system. He also updated the way cases are handled, delegating authority for smaller cases to his division chiefs. “When I came in this office, every single pleading, [every] new lawsuit had to be approved by me personally,” he says. That included hundreds of cases with less than $500 at stake. Settlements also were laborious, requiring extensive memos and blessings from a litigation division chief, Burbach, McBee and the governor’s office. Now, that hierarchy of approvals applies only to settlements for more than $5,000. “We’ve saved one lawyer about 250 hours a year” with that change alone, Burbach says. But he wasn’t hired just to manage divisions and dockets from afar. When he gets rolling on cases, he sounds like a kid in a candy store. “What makes it so wonderful for a litigator is it’s every kind of litigation, but I get to pick and choose which cases I want to work on,” he says.

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