Hay Compere in San Angelo

For the third time this year, Hay Compere has opened a new office. The Austin-based firm opened its San Angelo outpost on Oct. 22 with new partner Wesley M. Giesecke. Giesecke, formerly of Gossett, Harrison, Millican & Stipanovic of San Angelo, will manage the new office. Partner David Courreges says Hay Compere expanded into San Angelo because of the strength of the energy market and because Austin partners John Hay III and W. Derek Darby are both from San Angelo. “Wes is specifically in oil and gas and energy law, and, as you know with the new methods of drilling that have been going on in that area . . . there is a need for greater representation over there,” Courreges says. Giesecke says he enjoyed his previous firm but is excited about building a firm with a group of young lawyers “all just trying to make our mark.” He declines to identify clients. With Giesecke, Hay Compere has 11 lawyers in four offices, Courreges says. The two-year-old Hay Compere also has offices in Lakeway and South Padre Island. Greg Gossett, a partner in Gossett, Harrison, says the firm regrets losing Giesecke. “He’s a very talented and capable attorney, but apparently . . . a lot of the principals in that firm are also contemporary friends of Wes and felt like they had some potential business that was more oil and gas.”

Party Time

The Lanier Law Firm‘s annual holiday party is set for Dec. 9 at Mark and Becky Lanier’s house in the Cypress area northwest of Houston. Mark Lanier says it’s the 20th anniversary of the family-oriented party, which is a holiday tradition for many Texas lawyers, their spouses and children. “This has the coolest invitations yet, and they should drop in the mail a week from tomorrow,” Lanier said on Oct. 25. The party features a carnival-style midway with games and rides for children, food and big-name entertainment in a huge concert tent. As in past years, partygoers will be asked to contribute to a number of charities including Guatemala SANA, which builds schools and provides medical facilities in Guatemala, Lanier says. This year’s entertainment is expected to be country music couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Lanier declines to confirm that, saying only, “That would be an outstanding choice for our 20th anniversary party.” Country group Rascal Flatts took the stage at the 2011 shindig; Sting wowed the crowd in 2010; New Jersey band Bon Jovi rocked the party in 2009; and teen pop singer Miley Cyrus performed in 2008.

Case Continues

Texas Southern University has lost its motion for partial summary judgment in a race-discrimination suit brought by Patricia Garrison, an assistant dean of academic support at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. On Oct. 23, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison of the Southern District of Texas in Houston denied the motion filed by TSU, one of the nation’s historically black universities. Garrison, who is white, filed a complaint on June 23, 2011, alleging, among other things, that the university, her employer, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it discriminated against her based on race by withholding her payment for teaching a bar essay course, Ellison wrote in his memorandum and opinion. “In light of the evidence Garrison presents, a jury could infer that TSU withheld the $5,000 based on her race. Therefore, TSU’s motion for partial summary judgment must be denied,” the judge wrote in Garrison v. Texas Southern University. Garrison alleges that, when Dannye Holley became the dean of the law school in September 2009, he “quickly embarked on a campaign to make [Garrison's] life extremely difficult,” including “micromanaging her work” and refusing to use her proper title and to give her a key to the office for weekend use, Ellison wrote. TSU argued in its motion for partial summary judgment that certain actions Garrison alleged — including nonpayment for the bar essay course — do not rise to the level of adverse employment actions, as required by Title VII, the judge wrote. “In its motion, TSU does not contest that these alleged actions occurred, nor does it argue that the alleged actions were not taken with discriminatory intent. TSU only argues that the alleged actions do not arise to the level of an adverse employment action,” Ellison noted. Kathy Butler, a partner in Houston’s Butler and Harris who represents Garrison, welcomes the ruling. “This is a recognition that making decisions based on race can’t be papered over,” she says. A. Martin Wickliff Jr., a partner in the Houston office of Cozen O’Connor who represents TSU, declines to comment on the pending case. Holley did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Law of the Seas

Patton Boggs partner S. Cass Weiland of Dallas has some unusual bragging rights: He has appeared before 21 judges — at the same time. Along with two other lawyers, Weiland represented two countries before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas. The tribunal was created by a nearly two-decades-old international treaty, which the United States has not joined. The trial, which wrapped up Oct. 12, was held in the port city of Hamburg, Germany. Weiland, Patton Boggs Dallas of counsel Robert Hawkins, and Weiland’s brother in Houston, William Weiland, represented Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, two countries in the southern end of the Caribbean, in a dispute over alleged ship seizures. For hearings in Hamburg, judges appointed by the treaty member countries come from all over the world. The judges typically wear the judicial regalia of their native lands, S. Cass Weiland says. The proceedings take place in French and English, and the court follows “a mix of civil jurisprudence rules from France and the Anglo-Saxon world,” he says. The 21 judges send inquiries for the disputing parties to a court leader, known as the president, he says. Under the tribunal’s rules, evidence must be submitted six months before trial. “Not something most litigators are used to,” says Weiland. He says a decision is not expected until the spring of 2013 at the earliest.

Patent Expert

If you’re going to have an advisory committee for the appellate court that hears all of the nation’s patent law disputes, it’s wise to have a member who hails from the Eastern District of Texas, home to the one of the nation’s busiest patent dockets. As of this month, David Folsom, former chief judge of the Eastern District of Texas, is a member of the Advisory Council to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Folsom, who left the bench earlier this year to become a partner in Jackson Walker in Texarkana, will serve a three-year term as a member of the council, which was established to review, study and make recommendations regarding the court’s rules of practice and internal operating procedures. Folsom says he was appointed to the committee by Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall R. Rader. “They particularly wanted someone’s viewpoint that had served on the bench and the insight I might have,” says Folsom, who has kept himself busy with a mediation practice since leaving the bench. “I’m enjoying myself. I’m gone way too much. I’m on the road a lot due to my mediation practice. We’re hopeful to open a Jackson Walker office in Texarkana on Nov. 1. The bad part is I might not be here for that. As you know, parties usually don’t come to Texarkana for mediation — I go to them.”

Rocky Mountain High

Burleson has boosted its Denver office by adding eight associates, bringing the attorney count at the 14-month-old location to 31. Most of the new attorneys will focus on oil and gas matters in the Rocky Mountain region. Burleson opened its Denver office in August 2011 with eight attorneys. Leading the group were Jack Luellen and Brent Chicken, both of whom came from Denver’s Beatty & Wozniak. Joining the Denver office are Laura Bowzer, Aine Durkin, Jillian Fulcher, Sally Kent, Melissa Lyon, Steve Nagy, Craig Rowland and Ward Scott. Bowzer and Fulcher come directly from University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Demand for oil and gas exploration and production in the Rocky Mountain region is driving the expansion, said Luellen, managing partner of the Denver office. “We have the work,” he said. Founded in 2005 by Rick Burleson, the Houston-based firm has about 125 attorneys and focuses almost exclusively on energy and energy-related work.

—Leigh Jones
The National Law Journal