Lisa Hobbs did not intend to become a lawyer. Instead, she planned a career in broadcast journalism.
"I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters," Hobbs says.
After meeting a Houston reporter who had a J.D., she decided that a law degree could help her as a journalist, Hobbs says. However, after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law in 2000, she did not pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
Before graduating, she had interned for Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. After she graduated, she worked as a law clerk for then-Justice James A. Baker, beginning an association with the high court that would make her name familiar in legal circles.
Hobbs says that in 2004, she was an attorney in the appellate section and media practice group at Vinson & Elkins in Dallas, when then-Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson called. Jefferson, who would go on to become the chief justice, wanted her to apply to become the court’s rules attorney, which she did and got the job.
As the rules attorney, she worked closely with the Supreme Court Advisory Committee, often assisting in drafting proposed rules, Hobbs says. In the fall of 2005, shortly after she turned 30, the Supreme Court appointed her as its first general counsel, she says.
"I was able to work with the chief and mold that position to be something beneficial to the court," she says.
Hobbs says she left the Supreme Court in January 2008, returning to Vinson & Elkins as a part-time lawyer so that she could spend more time with her growing family.
At V&E, she worked with Dallas partner Tom Leatherbury on a number of cases, including representing the Episcopal Church in Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al, the largest church-property dispute in Texas history. The case, which was filed in Tarrant County’s 141st District Court, deals with who is entitled to control the diocese, its corporation and its property: the people who remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States or those who left the main church.
The trial court granted in part the Episcopal Church’s summary judgment motion, denied the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth’s summary judgment motion and ordered the diocese to surrender control of all church properties. The case is pending at the Texas Supreme Court on direct appeal.
Leatherbury says Hobbs helped write and review the high court brief in that case and assisted with an amicus brief on behalf of the main church for a companion case at the high court, Masterson, et al. v. The Diocese of Northwest Texas. She also was instrumental in oral argument preparation because she can drill down into a case and anticipate areas about which a court might want to hear, Leatherbury says.
He says Hobbs’ work on The Episcopal Church and other cases has continued since she left V&E in May 2012 to join Kurt Kuhn in founding Kuhn Hobbs in Austin.