fbpx Joe Jamail’s Legal Life is Centerpiece of Lunch Panel at South Texas Law Review Symposium; Panelists Address Legal Ethics From Every Perspective Throughout the Event - STCL Houston

Joe Jamail’s Legal Life is Centerpiece of Lunch Panel at South Texas Law Review Symposium; Panelists Address Legal Ethics From Every Perspective Throughout the Event

Home Law School News Joe Jamail’s Legal Life is Centerpiece of Lunch Panel at South Texas Law Review Symposium; Panelists Address Legal Ethics From Every Perspective Throughout the Event

Approximately 130 attorneys and law students gained legal ethics knowledge and tips on legal practice March 1 during South Texas College of Law Houston’s 30th Annual Law Review Ethics Symposium. The theme of the South Texas Law Review-hosted event was “Lawyer as An Advocate.” 

In his welcome, President and Dean Michael F. Barry encouraged and challenged the lawyers in attendance to keep ethics front and center in their legal work. “We are the defenders of democracy,” he said. “We are the defenders of the rule of law. We must do the right thing for the right reasons in the right way. We must demonstrate every day we believe in the principles of justice. If we lose those principles, our republic itself is at risk.”

Bill Kroger, partner with Baker Botts LLP, moderated a keynote discussion focused on “Lessons from the Life and Practice of Joe Jamail.” Jamail is best known as the famed trial attorney who won the landmark verdict in the 1985 Pennzoil v. Texaco case, resulting in a $10.53 billion verdict — still the largest jury award in history — for Pennzoil Co., which sued Texaco Inc., alleging tortious interference with Pennzoil’s contract to buy Getty Oil stock. The appeal of the case was heard by the Court of Appeals, First District, in Joe Green Auditorium on the South Texas Law campus.

When asked by Kroger what made his dad special, attorney and panelist Dahr Jamail said, “He believed in his clients; he believed in their cause of action. He was fearless and he took chances… very calculated chances. His mentor was Percy Foreman, possibly the greatest criminal attorney in history.”

The other lunchtime panelists who shared interesting anecdotes and memories of Joe Jamail were Harry Reasoner, partner, Vinson & Elkins (Ret.); Janet Hansen ’76, Law Office of Janet Hansen; and Frank Staggs, Jr. ’82, associate attorney with Jamail & Kolius.

“The symposium was a resounding success!” said South Texas Law Review Editor in Chief Rick Ali. “Hosting the event was a pleasure, and we are thankful to everyone who participated, spoke, and attended.” Ali is an incoming litigation associate at Foley & Lardner LLP.

Ali enjoyed moderating a panel that included two former Texas Supreme Court Justices, Justice David M. Medina ’89 and Justice Eva M. Guzman ’89, and a former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Judge Charles Baird ’80 — all STCL Houston alumni.

The panelists throughout the day featured many South Texas Law alumni, including Mary-Olga “Mo” Lovett ’93, trial & global disputes partner with King & Spalding. “When I walk into this room, I remember who I was when I got here,” Lovett noted. She talked about the quality of South Texas in preparing trial lawyers, and she shared insights about her successes and challenges in her career as a defense attorney. 

One of the criminal advocacy panelists, attorney Cordt C. Akers ’12, noted that he started as a prosecutor but knew within two weeks he wanted to be a trial attorney — and eventually took that career path. He said the most common question defense attorneys receive is, “How can you do this?”

After describing a life-changing experience that deepened his personal compassion, Cordt said, “I realized every person has a story to tell… the opposing lawyer, victim, defendant, witness. Everyone is more than the paperwork we look at in our office. Most importantly, everyone has a story beyond what they did on their worst day.”

During the panel that described how ethics intersect with civil trial and appellate law, Daniel Johnson ’04 reminded listeners, “You are going to have to grapple with ethical issues and concerns. They will come to visit you every day as you ensure you are meeting your duty to your clients. One of those duties is to stay abreast of the law and changes in the law and to determine how you react in your practice or in a specific case. We want to give clients the best representation we can, so we are ethically bound to stay on top of the law.”

Panelist Michael P. Lyons ’90 referenced a comment from Dahr Jamail earlier in the day regarding the practical nature of a South Texas Law education. “No truer words have ever been said… the education you receive at this law school is very practical. When you exit this law school and take the bar exam, you start practicing law as a graduate of South Texas. You’re ready to go, if you did the work here and put the time in. You will be well suited to be a successful lawyer in whatever practice you choose — especially if you want to be a trial lawyer.”

All the presentations from the  event will be captured in a future issue of the South Texas Law Review.

The South Texas Law Review is thankful to all moderators and panelists: 

“Unveiling the Dynamics of Criminal Advocacy” — Moderator: Amanda Peters, Godwin Lewis PC Research Professor and professor of law, STCL Houston. Panelists: Cordt C. Akers ’12, partner, The Akers Firm, PLLC; Alex Bunin ’85, chief public defender, Harris County; Erin Epley, Erin Epley Law Firm; Mike Holley, first assistant Montgomery County district attorney’s office; and Jack Roady, Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.

“Ethical Imperatives in Civil Trial and Appellate Advocacy” — Moderator: Professor Jeff L. Rensberger, professor of law and vice president for strategic planning and institutional research, South Texas College of Law Houston. Panelists:Daniel Johnson ’04, Founding Partner, Johnson Garcia LLP; Mary-Olga (“Mo”) Lovett ’93, Trial & Global Disputes Partner, King & Spalding; Michael P. Lyons ’99, Founding Partner, Lyons & Simmons; and Dylan B. Russell ’03, Partner, Hoover Slovacek LLP

Q&A Panel: “A View of Ethical Advocacy from Masters of the Bench and Bar” — Moderator: Rick Ali, Editor in Chief, 2023-24 South Texas Law ReviewPanelists: The Honorable Eva Guzman ’89, partner, Wright Close & Barger, LLP, and former Texas Supreme Court Justice (Ret.); The Honorable David M. Medina ’89, partner, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams, & Aughtry, P.C. and former Texas Supreme Court Justice (Ret.); and The Honorable Charles F. Baird ’80, Baird Law Firm, former Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals (Ret.).

View more photos from the event here: 30th Annual Ethics Symposium

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