Brian Newby, who joined Cantey Hanger in 1991 but left the Fort Worth firm for several years to serve as Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s general counsel and chief of staff, is now running the firm.
Cantey Hanger’s partnership elected litigator Newby to be managing partner as of June 1, succeeding Michael Appleman, who had served in that role since 2015. Cantey Hanger has 70 lawyers in Fort Worth and Dallas. Newby said he is not aware of any comparable or larger firm in Texas led by an African American male.
“The firm is progressive. The firm has looked at what do we do as a firm to promote diversity. This is just one more step in that process,” he said.
Appleman said in a press release that Newby has risen to the top in all of his endeavors, including at the governor’s office and in the U.S. Air Force, and will bring the same leadership skills to the firm.
In 2004, when he was a partner at the firm, Newby left to serve as Gov. Perry’s legal adviser, and then became chief of staff in 2007. He returned to Cantey Hanger in January 2009 to practice public law and now heads the public/regulatory practice.
Newby is also a former vice chairman of the Texas Tech University System board of regents, and also served in active duty and in the reserves with the U.S. Air Force. Retired from the Air Force as a Major General, Newby’s last military assignment was at the Pentagon, where he supervised more than 450 military lawyers and paralegals.
One item topping Newby’s agenda is concentrating on Cantey Hanger’s “visioning” through a rebranding process, which will include a new logo. “It’s a strategic vision at this point. It may morph in to a strategic plan,” he said.
Newby described Cantey Hanger as a regional firm with national clients that is looking to grow in Texas. It was founded in 1882.
“We have obviously been known for strong litigators and the litigation practice has been stellar. We are looking at expanding in different business areas—transactional areas, labor and employment areas—the areas outside of litigation that we think will help with the expansion of our client base in Fort Worth,” he said.
He said competition has been intense in the market because of the influx of national firms opening offices in north Texas, but “we know that our overhead for services in Fort Worth are much lower than in Dallas and that provides a great benefit for our clients.”
For the last few years, Newby has been of counsel at Cantey Hanger as well as of counsel at Mahomes Bolden, a Texas firm that does municipal bond work. He said that arrangement is allowed by the State Bar of Texas, and he will stay in that role even as he runs Cantey Hanger, where he is again a partner. He said Cantey Hanger does not do municipal bond work.