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New Addition Harris County Judge Robert Eckels plans to resign his government job to join Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston, where he will build an administrative, regulatory and government relations practice. Eckels, who was elected in November 2006 to a fourth four-year term as county judge, says he will join 995-lawyer Fulbright as a partner once his successor as county judge is selected. Eckels says many firms approached him over the years, but he chose to join Fulbright because the firm was not seeking to hire him solely for lobbying. Eckels says, however, he may do some lobbying at Fulbright. Michael Conlon, Fulbright’s partner in charge in Houston, says serious talks with Eckels began in January. “We view his role as a broad role. It’s not going to be a lobbying role,” Conlon says. Eckels says he will make more money at Fulbright than in public service, but that’s not the primary reason he chose to put his law degree to full use. Eckels says his annual salary as county judge is about $141,000, while average profits per partner at Fulbright were $714,000 in 2005, according to Texas Lawyer’s Annual Report on Firm Finance. Eckels, who graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1993 while serving as a state representative in the Texas Legislature, says he has maintained a limited solo practice over the years. He says he’s mostly done real estate and transactional work but has a lot of experience in administrative and public law as county judge. Eckels says he’s not ruling out another bid for public office in the future. A Good Fit Lawyers at Houston litigation firm Beirne, Maynard & Parsons have dabbled in bankruptcy litigation over the years, but the firm just expanded its practice offerings with a new three-lawyer restructuring and insolvency group. On Feb. 16, bankruptcy partner Vincent Slusher and associates Cyndee Cole and Seth Moore joined Beirne, Maynard; they came from Godwin Pappas Langley Ronquillo in Dallas. Managing partner Martin Beirne says the 94-lawyer firm has been interested in adding a bankruptcy practice for a while. “We thought it was a great leap forward for us,” he says. Slusher says the move to Beirne, Maynard is a good fit for his group and gives them greater opportunity to break into the Houston market. Beirne says the new bankruptcy lawyers will split their time between Dallas and Houston. Slusher says his group represents debtors and creditors in bankruptcy matters. Recent debtor clients include Integrated DisAbility Resources Inc., whose Chapter 11 was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, he says. New Law Schools? A bill that would create the Reynaldo G. Garza School of Law at the University of Texas at Brownsville is pending in the House Higher Education Committee. House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, referred H.B. 1099 to the committee on Feb. 12. State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, introduced the bill on Feb. 5. The Rio Grande Valley is the fastest growing area of the state and has no professional schools, says Lucio, an associate with Clark, Thomas & Winters. The closest law school is in San Antonio, he says. H.B. 1099 is the second bill that would create a new law school that lawmakers have filed for consideration during the current session of the Texas Legislature. S.B. 105, which Democratic state Sen. Royce West, a shareholder in West & Gooden in Dallas, filed on Nov. 14, 2006, would establish the University of North Texas System School of Law in Dallas. But supporters of the proposed law schools could face an uphill battle in obtaining state funding for the schools. “We’ll have to do a lot of soul-searching before we create another law school,” says state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. Texas currently has nine law schools, four of which are publicly funded. Chisum says the appropriations committee will look at whether another law school is needed. Lucio says he considers the money that the state would spend to establish another law school an investment. “You’re investing in people’s futures; you’re investing in people who will go on to become productive citizens,” he says.

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