December 2021 - January 2022

Alumni Notes are published based on the information we receive from our alumni. If you have been recognized or have other professional news to share, please e-mail, for inclusion in the next issue of Rocket Docket.

Bill Kessler, JD '71

Bill Kessler was recently surprised with a celebration by family and friends for 50 years of law practice in Uvalde, Texas. He was awarded his 50-year pin from the Texas Bar Association. Bill joined his father's law firm in 1971 and has served the community well.

Honorable Diane Bell, JD '85

Honorable Diane Bell of Boerne, has retired as Judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law #11 and has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Specialty Courts Advisory Council.

Jana Litsey, JD '86

Jana Litsey serves as the Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Huntington Bancshares and The Huntington National Bank.

Roy DeFriend, JD '90

Roy DeFriend, Limestone County District Attorney, was inducted to the Texas Prosecutors Society (TPS). The Society brings together those who have demonstrated enduring support for the profession of prosecution. TPS membership is by invitation only and nominees must have a minimum of five years of service as a prosecutor or other criminal justice experience and have made a significant and sustained contribution to the advancement of the profession and criminal justice in Texas.

Honorable Rebecca DePew, JD '92

Honorable Rebecca DePew of Holland, is Judge of the Bell County Court at Law #3 and has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Specialty Courts Advisory Council.

Michael C. Smith, JD '92

Michael C. Smith recently received his master's degree in World War II Studies from a program offered jointly through Arizona State University and The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA. Michael's digital portfolio from the program can be viewed online. Michael is the author of two books on World War II subjects, Essex Class Carriers in Action and U.S. Light Carriers in Action, is the sole named inventor on two U.S. patents, and maintains websites on practice in local federal courts as well as intellectual property cases in all Texas federal courts. He is a partner in the Dallas-based law firm Scheef & Stone, LLP, manages the firm's Marshall office and assists clients in complex commercial litigation in Texas federal courts.

Bryan S. Dumesnil, JD '95

Bryan S. Dumesnil, with Bracewell LLP in Houston, has been elected to serve a three-year term on the firm's management committee. Bryan is a litigation partner and chair of the firm's financial institutions litigation practice. He also serves on the Associate Evaluation Committee. In 2021, he was ranked as a leading lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America.

Derek Gilliland, JD '98

Derek Gilliland was selected as magistrate judge for the Western District of Texas Waco division.

Christopher B. Trowbridge, JD '98

Christopher B. Trowbridge, managing partner of Bell Nunnally, has been named to the 2022 "Dallas 500" list. Trowbridge is listed in the "Law - Business and IP Litigation" category and is one of 18 in the "Law - Managing Partners" category, part of a larger roundup featuring 500 North Texas business leaders across more than 50 industries. Active in his community, Trowbridge is chairman of the board of directors for the Thanks-Giving Foundation – the non-profit group that owns and operates Thanks-Giving Square, a contemplation garden, exhibition hall, and interfaith chapel in Downtown Dallas. He is also a member of the Communities Foundation of Texas Advisory Council and a member of the Dallas Regional Chamber, Southern Dallas Task Force.

Jackie R. Claborn II, JD '00

Jackie R. Claborn II has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott as District Attorney of the 287th Judicial District in Bailey and Parmer Counties for a term set to expire December 31, 2022 or until his successor shall be duly elected and qualified.

Kristine Hale Bell, JD '01

Kristine Hale Bell received a promotion to Chief, Civil Law Division and Senior Civilian for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA). Kristine has over 10 years of Federal civilian service with the U.S. Department of the Army, and most recently served as the Senior Labor Counselor for the OSJA at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Gwen Walraven, JD '04

Gwen Walraven, partner at Bell Nunnally, received the "Rotary Ethics Award" from the Richardson East Rotary Club (RERC). She received this prestigious honor based on her ethical principles and continued emphasis on justice, honesty, empathy, concern for others, integrity, inclusion and fellowship in all actions. Gwen has been a member of the RERC for four years, including serving on the board of directors and as a member of the group's strategic planning and membership committees. For 2020-2021, she served as Director of Club Services, providing unique and continued engagement for members during much of the pandemic. She was part of a leadership team that helped the RERC grow its membership at a time when Rotaries across the country were experiencing declines. Earlier this year she received the "Paul Harris Award" – given to a Rotarian or a member of the community who has made an outstanding contribution to society.

Crystal Y'Barbo Stapley, JD '09

Crystal Y'Barbo Stapley has been promoted to counsel at Vinson & Elkins. Crystal's practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and arbitration matters, white-collar criminal and civil litigation, and government investigations.

Travis L. Johnson, JD '10

Travis L. Johnson has been promoted to Senior Associate at BoyarMiller in Houston. He represents clients in corporate matters, mergers and acquisitions, business transactions, and contracts in the firm's business group. In 2021, Chambers and Partners recognized Johnson as an Associate to Watch in their legal rankings with remarks on his professionalism and legal acumen.

T. Hunter Lewis, JD '10

T. Hunter Lewis, with Duffee+Eitzen in Dallas, has been selected for D Magazine's Best Lawyers Under 40.

A. Brook Fulks, JD '11

A. Brook Fulks, with O'Neil Wysocki, PC in Dallas, is now board certified in Family Law.

Andy Jones, JD '13

Andy Jones will serve at the 2022 President of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.

Catherine Rowsey, JD '13

Catherine Rowsey was promoted to Partner at Holland & Knight LLP. She focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation and arbitration matters, government investigations and enforcement actions, and corporate governance and internal investigations.

Matthew Myers, JD '14

Matthew Myers recently founded Myers Immigration Law, a business immigration law firm based in San Antonio. Matthew also serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the State Bar of Texas Immigration & Nationality Law Section.

Rekha Roarty, JD '14

Rekha Roarty was named a Partner of Bollier Ciccone, LLP in Austin. Her practice focuses on construction and real estate litigation.

Phillip M. Gordon, JD '15

Phillip M. Gordon was recently promoted to partner at Holtzman Vogel Baran Torchinsky & Josefiak PLLC. Phil's litigation practice focuses primarily on voting rights, the First Amendment, redistricting, and other campaign finance and election-related matters.

Katie Wolters Mayo, JD '15 and LLM '21

Katie Wolters Mayo has joined Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) in Austin as Senior Corporate Counsel supporting the company's rapidly growing Datacenter GPU and Accelerated Processing business unit.

Daniel P. Pellegrin, Jr., JD '19

Daniel P. Pellegrin, Jr., has accepted an Associate Attorney position with the Houston office of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

Kyli Cotton, JD '20

Kyli Cotton has joined Kaiser Hafezi Law in Bensenville, Illinois, focusing on personal injury matters.

Christian Carson-Banister, JD '21

Christian Carson-Banister has joined the McClure Law Group in Dallas.

Sarah E. Biemer, JD '21

Sarah E. Biemer has joined Munsch Hardt Kopf & Hart in Dallas as a new associate in the Real Estate practice.

Victoria A. Filoso, JD '21

Victoria A. Filoso has joined the Commercial Litigation group with Butler Snow LLP in Austin. .

James D. Wilson, JD '21

James D. Wilson has joined Munsch Hardt Kopf & Hart in Dallas as a new associate in the Real Estate practice.