Law School News

STCL Houston Alumnus Joins Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as General Counsel

Jeffrey Downing ’05 recently became general counsel for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) — the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world, and one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the Greater Houston area.

“I applied for the position with no real expectation that they would call me,” Downing said. “However, they did, and I am glad. This is the job of a lifetime.”

There was no question about where Downing wanted to attend law school after completing his undergraduate studies in political science at Texas A&M University. South Texas College of Law Houston has become a family tradition. As a child he often accompanied his grandfather, Desmond Gay ’53, to the courthouse. His aunt, Pam Gay ’82, is an alumna.

“I did not apply anywhere else,” said Downing. His sister, Amanda Downing ’06, graduated a year after he did. He also met the woman he would marry, Taneka Johnson Downing ’05, while they were both law students at STCL Houston.

The native Houstonian started his legal career as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He interned there during law school, receiving his student bar card, and trying and winning a DWI case. “I was terrified, to be honest. But I learned to the love the experience.”

He later opened his own firm, taking criminal defense cases and handling general legal issues for clients. After marrying and becoming the father of twins, Downing joined the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, where he worked with juvenile offenders. After completing his executive MBA at the University of Houston, he pursued corporate legal roles that gave him experience reviewing contracts, handling business transactions, understanding supply chain issues, and working through mergers and acquisitions.

Immediately prior to joining HLSR’s management team, Downing served as executive vice president and general counsel at W-Industries LLC, an energy industry-adjacent company.

HLSR’s president and CEO, Chris Boleman, Ph.D., praised Downing’s record of accomplishment in the legal profession. “His deep expertise in permitting, licensing, contract negotiations, business transactions, and legal matters makes him a strong addition to the rodeo’s senior management team.” Downing is responsible for the nonprofit’s legal affairs, risk management, and corporate governance. He will provide advice and counsel on critical strategic, legal, and public policy issues.

Downing enjoys the dynamic nature of the role of general counsel. “There are so many varied responsibilities, touching different areas of practice. It keeps me sharp, and on my toes. Each day is different,” he said. As an attorney with such a diversity of experience, his advice to law students seems rooted in his lived experience. “Don’t think you already know what you want to do. Be open. Entertain all the options that present themselves. Doors can open for you. When that happens, you don’t want to miss the job of your dreams.”