Melinda Phelan of Baker Mckenzie. Courtesy photo


Amber James joined Underwood as shareholder and focuses her practice on commercial litigation and business transactions representing clients in all industries. James was a shareholder with Atkins Hollmann Jones Peacock Lewis & Lyon.

Carl von Merz joined Bracewell’s energy practice as partner. Von Merz focuses on acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, and private equity investments related to upstream oil and gas properties. Von Merz joined the firm from Morgan Lewis.

Gwen Samora joined Copeland & Rice as partner. Samora will focus appeals in oil and gas,commercial disputes, as well as environmental and tax matters. Prior to being a solo practitioner at Samora law firm, Samora was partner at Vinson & Elkins.

Jay Dewald and Michele Schwartz joined Jackson Walker as partners in the Dallas office. Dewald has started the firm’s white-collar practice. Schwarz focuses her practice on intellectual property with emphasis on copyright, trademarks, trade dress, advertising and unfair competition. Dewald and Schwartz were partners at Andrew Kurths Kenyon.

Jessica Adkins, co-chair of the Bracewell’s power projects practice, was selected as a member of the Greater Houston Partnership Executive Women’s Partnership. Adkins joins a prominent group of more than 100 top female executives of companies with revenue of $100 million or greater. Adkins focuses on structured commodity, hedging matters, as well as project development, finance, and investment.

John Guaragna was named co-managing partner of  DLA Piper Houston office. Guaragna focuses on technology and intellectual property counseling and litigation. Guaragna was partner at DLA Piper.

Kfir Abutbul joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s private equity practice group as partner. Abutbul focuses on advising private equity sponsors, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and leveraged buy-outs of join ventures.

Meghan Griffiths joined Jackson Walker as partner in the firm’s Austin office. Griffiths focuses on energy law, predominantly litigation and commercial transactions. Griffith was partner at Andrew Kurths Kenyon.

Melinda Phelan was named Chair of Baker McKenzie’s North America tax practice group. Phelan focuses on transfer pricing, audit and controversy matters, and international tax issues. Phelan is partner in Baker Mckenzie’s Dallas office.

Michael DePompei joined Haynes and Boone as partner in the firm’s tax practice. DePompei focuses on tax issues in the partnership, real estate and tax-exempt areas. DePompei was a director in the Washington national tax practice group of Deloitte.

Michael Shaw joined Jackson Walker as partner in the firm’s Houston office. Shaw focuses his practice on real estate, finance, and energy matters. Shaw was partner at Andrews Kurth Kenyon.

Paul Mitchell joined Hicks Thomas as partner. Mitchell joined the firm’s oil and gas practice and will focus on commercial litigation, energy disputes and litigation, intellectual property, international arbitration, as well as anti-corruption and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Sunna Choi and Kyle Fox joined Greenberg Traurig as shareholders. Choi and Fox joined the firm’s corporate practice group as partners. Choi focuses on secured and unsecured syndicated financings, private placement of debt, distressed debt investments, restructuring transactions, venture capital financings and cross-border financings. Fox focuses on mergers and acquisitions and other transactions for private equity, ranging from startups to international business ventures. Choi was counsel of the corporate finance group at O’Melveny & Myers. Fox was partner at Miller, Egan, Molter, & Nelson.

Trey Monsour joined Polsinelli as shareholder. Monsour joined the firm’s national bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice. Monsour focuses on restructuring troubled businesses, workouts and commercial bankruptcy cases. Monsour was a partner at K&L Gates.

Todd Culwell joined Reed Smith’s energy and natural resources practice group as partner. Culwell focuses on global energy transactions relating to oil and gas assets, energy infrastructure and project financings. Culwell joined from Andrews Kurth.

New Arrivals

Barry Burgdorf joins Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman as special counsel of the corporate and life sciences practice. Burgdorf will focus on biotech and education. Burgdorf joins the firm from Remeditex Ventures, where he was chief operating officer.

Walt Green joined Phelps Dunbar as partner in the firm’s litigation practice. Green will focus on white-collar defense and government investigations, cybersecurity and civil litigation. Green served as U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana.


Harriet Miers was awarded the Texas Appleseed 2017 J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award. Miers was managing partner of a Locke Lord predecessor firm and former counsel to the president of the United States. Texas Appleseed, a public interest justice center, presents its highest recognition to leading legal minds and trailblazers who have helped shape the Texas legal field.

The Houston Bar Association is a recipient of the 2017 Deborah G. Hankinson Award from the Texas Access to Justice Commission. The award is named for the former Texas Supreme Court justice, who was a important force behind the creation of a commission to ensure that low-income Texas have access to justice in civil legal matters.

Melodie Craft, a shareholder in the Dallas office of Littler Mendelson, has been accepted into the Leadership Dallas Class of 2018. Program participants receive exposure to issues facing the Dallas community, develop breadth leadership skills and build professional relationships. The city is provided with ongoing diverse leaders who are committed to serving as catalysts for improving quality of life for Dallas residents.

Jim Richardson has been named President-Elect of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. The board is the largest national attorney board certification organization in the United States. Richardson was elected at the Board of Directors annual meeting in Boston in July 2017. Richardson is a partner at Richardson and Burgess in Austin.