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These alumni notes reflect the period from August 2013 to the present.


Bryan Blevins is the 2014 President-Elect for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. The announcement was made during the TTLA Annual Membership and Board Meeting in December. Blevins will serve as TTLA president during the legislative session in 2015.

Roy DeFriend was named the Groesbeck, Texas 2013 Citizen of the Year. He was presented with the award at a Groesbeck Chamber of Commerce banquet. He has served as the district attorney of Limestone County since 2001.

Jeffrey H. Moore has left the partnership of Friday, Eldredge & Clark in Little Rock and is practicing commercial litigation and construction litigation as Jeffrey H. Moore, PA in Arkansas.


Harry Laxton Jr. has opened his law office in Kingwood. Laxton has litigated in courts in several states, including Texas, California, New York, Virginia, and Delaware. He has been a member of the Emerging Technologies Committee and Patent Litigation Committee of the American Intellectual Property Legal Association, and has guest lectured at the University of Texas at Arlington, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Brazoria County Bar Association. He has been published in the American Bar Association's Trial Practice Journal and the IP & Technology Law Journal.


Patrick Berry has been named assistant district attorney for Wise County.

Steven Jansma was recently named head of Mass Tort and Product Liability, United States, for Norton Rose Fulbright.

Michele Y. Smith, a shareholder and management committee member with MehaffyWeber, P.C., has been named executive vice president of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel for 2012-2013, and will serve as president of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel for the term of 2014-2015. Smith has more than 20 years of diverse jury trial experience and is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

C. Matthew Terrell has joined Phelps Dunbar LLP's new Dallas/Fort Worth office. He will serve as managing partner.

Cline White of Jackson Walker L.L.P. in San Antonio was named to S.A. Scene's 2013 Best S.A. Lawyers list


James Deets is opening the Dallas office of Compensation & Benefit Solutions LLC, which he has joined as a director. Previously with Hunton & Williams, Deets focuses his practice in the employee benefits and executive compensation areas, and his experience includes qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, equity plans, executive compensation arrangements, and health and welfare plans, including correction of plan defects before the IRS, as well as issues that arise in connection with mergers and acquisitions.


Wade Emmert was recognized at the Dallas Baylor Lawyer Network reception as the Outstanding Dallas Baylor Lawyer. Emmert is an accomplished trial lawyer with Burford & Ryburn, a former city councilman in Cedar Hill, former chairman of the Best Southwest Partnership, and is currently chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party.

Greg McConnell, assistant general counsel with Tenet Healthcare Corporation in Dallas, was recently elected as the 2014 chair of the Dallas Bar Association Health Law Section.

Cindy Tisdale is the new chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. Tisdale is the owner of the Law Office of Cindy V. Tisdale in Granbury, where she practices family law.

Kristie A. Wright was recently named the Executive Director of 1st Choice Pregnancy Resource Center (FCPRC) in Texarkana. FCPRC is a 501(C)3 non-profit dedicated to empowering young women in crisis pregnancies to choose life.


Darin Beck, deputy director of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC), has been elected the president of the Kansas Peace Officers Association. The election took place at the annual fall KPOA convention in Hutchinson, Kan. He is the first attorney to serve as president of the association in its 97-year history. Beck originally joined the KLETC staff in 1999, serving nine years as associate general counsel for the University of Kansas and assigned as legal counsel to KLETC. In 2009, he was named KLETC's deputy director. The KPOA is the oldest and largest professional law enforcement association in Kansas. It was founded in 1916 and currently has approximately 3,800 members statewide. The KPOA serves to promote personal acquaintance among peace officers in Kansas.

Todd J. Liles was named partner at the law firm of Cantey Hanger in Fort Worth. Liles' practice area focuses on title insurance litigation, real estate litigation and general commercial litigation in state and federal courts throughout Texas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association and is admitted to practice in the United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of Texas.

Celeste R. Yeager has joined the Dallas office Littler Mendelson, P.C. as a shareholder. Yeager previously was a partner with Gardere and vice chair of its hospitality industry team. Active in the community, Yeager currently serves as board member of the Fine Arts Chamber Players and is a member of Attorneys Serving the Community.


Ivan A. Andarza was appointed on Oct. 15, 2013 by Governor Rick Perry to serve on the Texas State Technical College Board of Regents.

Mike Moran of the firm Jackson Walker was selected for inclusion in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business. He was ranked in the category of Construction (Texas).

Stephanie Dooley Nelson has joined the Dallas-based appellate law firm of Hankinson LLP. Nelson handles a variety of appellate matters, including jurisdictional challenges, mandamus petitions, and interlocutory and accelerated appeals. She also works with trial teams on motions and evidentiary issues, jury charges, and litigation strategy. Her commercial and business litigation experience includes cases involving fiduciary obligations, professional liability, employment relations, contract disputes, insurance coverage, and products liability. She represents a broad cross section of clients, including those involved in the legal, manufacturing, insurance, aviation, trucking, and oil and gas production industries. Nelson graduated cum laude from Baylor Law School, where she was managing editor of the Baylor Law Review and earned the President's Award. She is a past president of the Dallas Young Lawyers Association and chair of the group's foundation, as well as a member of the Dallas Bar Association's Board of Directors. From 2004 through 2009, Nelson was named to the Texas Rising Stars list by the publishers of Texas Super Lawyers magazine.

Mark Slough was appointed by ES Performance to the positions of CEO and president. This move precedes the grand opening of the company's Houston facility on Oct. 13. CES Performance will operate its training facility in partnership with The Methodist Center for Sports Medicine out of the Houston Amateur Sports Park, which also serves as the training location of the Houston Dynamo. In his role as CEO, Slough will oversee all strategic decision making, operations, events and facilities, and will lead the effort to expand CES into new vertical markets.


James Carter was elected to become a Fellow of The Texas Bar Foundation. Each nominee must be elected by the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees and membership is restricted to Texas attorneys. Election is a mark of distinction and recognition of Carter's contributions to the legal profession. Carter is a partner with Drought, Drought & Bobbitt, LLP in San Antonio.

Christopher R. D'Amico has joined the Business Services group as a partner in the Orlando-based firm of Roetzel. His practice focuses on representing companies and business owners in all types of business and tax matters, including mergers and acquisitions, and reorganizations.

Derek Gilliland of Nix Patterson & Roach was part of a trial team that won a $96 million patent verdict in Washington state federal court for biotechnology research firm Syntrix Biosystems. A former adjunct professor, Gilliland taught Torts II at Baylor Law School.

James H. Ortega has joined the firm of Carstens & Cahoon, LLP in Dallas as a partner. Ortega's practice of intellectual property law involves the prosecution and litigation of patents and trademarks, copyright, trade dress and trade secret matters, non-infringement and invalidity opinions, freedom to operate studies, agreements for the development, transfer or licensing of technology, and intellectual property portfolio management.


Kirk Pittard, a partner at Kelly, Durham & Pittard, LLP, has been selected as a director to the Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit, non-partisan group, and premier statewide leadership organization focused on identifying the next generation of top Texas leaders. He also was named by D Magazine as a Best Lawyer in Dallas for appellate law.

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