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B. Craig Deats Partner Deats & Levy, Austin For B. Craig Deats, it was a natural move to go into the labor law field representing unions and employees. His father, who worked in the elevator industry, was a union member, somewhat unusual in Texas when Deats was growing up in San Antonio. And sometimes things got a little tough. “He went on strike a couple of times when I was a kid,” Deats says. “We had to tighten our belts.” But it was worth it. The older Deats put three kids through college and is retired on a good union pension, his son says. “It taught me that when workers stick together, we can make things happen,” Deats says. Deats graduated from the UT Law School in 1978. He spent time as an in-house attorney for a union and as a partner in an Austin firm before opening his own firm in 1992. As a union lawyer, he’s represented police officers, firefighters, teachers, communications workers, carpenters and plumbers, among others. Currently, he is general counsel for the Texas State Association of Firefighters. In two suits that went to the Texas Supreme Court, Proctor v. Andrews and Andrews v. Wilson, Deats, 47, successfully defended the right of officers and firefighters to have their cases heard by an independent hearing examiner rather than go through civil service proceedings. “I like practicing from the side I do because it’s an opportunity to help people,” he says. “Employees who come to me are often in deep distress. It’s very gratifying to help them.”

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