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Michael Maslanka Partner Clark West Keller, Dallas Mark Shank Partner Clark West Keller, Dallas Mark Shank and Michael Maslanka strive to make the practice of law better for their colleagues. Shank, 46, lectures up to 30 times a year, tackling the challenge of making this area of the law as clear and simple as possible. Maslanka, as the editor of the Texas Employment Law Letter, a monthly that goes out to 3,200 subscribers, discusses changes in the law and provides compliance guidance for employers. In addition to their writing and lecturing, the two are defense lawyers for public entities, including the city of Dallas, and private companies. Some of their biggest wins are unknown to the public, however, because the cases are settled with confidentiality agreements. Maslanka, 44, has written three books on employment law. He believes in win-win situations and encourages employers to treat their employees fairly and follow the law so that everyone comes out ahead. After graduating in 1981 from Tulane Law School, Maslanka worked for the National Labor Relations Board in Houston for two years, then moved to Clark West in Dallas. He finds his work challenging from an intellectual and human relations standpoint. “Every case is an important case because it is such a personal matter to employers,” he says. Shank, who is president of the Dallas Bar Association and a former chairman of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, decided to go into employment law when he moved to the Lone Star State from Missouri because of the chance to deal with issues that can be emotionally charged for the clients. He began work at Clark West in 1981. “I’m dealing with real problems of real people,” he says. “The successful lawyers don’t just understand the law, but understand people, too, and their motivations. I like coming to a resolution that is creative and satisfactory to my business clients.” Shank — who received his J.D. in 1979 from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law and his L.L.M. in labor studies from the SMU law school in 1984 — also works occasionally as an arbitrator in labor and employment cases, and made the ruling in 1998 that allowed former Channel 8 star anchor Tracy Rowlett to begin work at another television station. He says the work sharpens his skills. “Service as an arbitrator makes me a better advocate,” he says.

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