Baylor Lawyer Harper Estes (JD ’79) Honored by Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas

July 8, 2020

Baylor Lawyer Harper Estes (JD ’79) Honored by Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas


The Texas State Bar Litigation Section has awarded Baylor Lawyer Harper Estes (JD ’79) the Luther (Luke) H. Soules III Award. The award is presented annually to an attorney who “embodies excellence in the practice of law and exemplary service to the Bar through outstanding professionalism and community impact.”

Harper Estes (JD ’79) with the 2020 Luke H. Soules III Award

The Luke Soules Award recognizes attorneys in good standing in the State of Texas for a minimum of 10 years who meet the following criteria: demonstrated commitment to equal justice under law; conduct promoting the rule of law; outstanding examples of professionalism; community impact as a result of the practice of law and one or more significant contributions as a result of legal representation.

Upon receiving word of the award, Estes stated, “No award like this is ever truly individual. Most of the credit goes to my family, my mentors early and throughout my practice and the talented people with whom I have been blessed to work. I started this job in 1980 with another Baylor Law graduate, Steve Kiser, and we have practiced together for our entire careers. I learned long ago that he makes me a better lawyer and he, along with my other colleagues, has made this job fun. Now I have the privilege to learn from much younger Baylor Lawyers like Derek Cook and Jack Shepherd.” He added, “I also give great credit to Professor Ed Horner who taught oil and gas while I was at Baylor Law. I was always impressed with how fulfilled he was because he loved what he was doing and those with whom he was doing it. That has always stuck with me and I have been blessed to have the same experience. While I would not want to experience Practice Court again, I have always been grateful for my days at Baylor Law School and the lessons I learned about service, integrity and the rule of law.”

Estes has a distinguished career as a trial lawyer in civil and business litigation focused primarily on the oil and gas industry. He is a sought-after mediator and arbitrator and has conducted over 1,000 mediations. Harper has argued cases before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, numerous Texas intermediate appellate courts, the Supreme Court of Texas, and has served on both domestic and International Arbitration Tribunals.

A prolific author of journal articles, book reviews, and opinion columns in the Texas Bar Journal, Estes is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education workshops, and often volunteers at events at Baylor Law.

Estes served as President of the State Bar of Texas from 2008-2009. In addition, He has served as president, president-elect, vice president and secretary/treasurer of the Midland County Bar Association. He also served on the State Bar of Texas' board of directors as chair of the grievance committee, on the Texas Young Lawyers Association board of directors and as secretary/treasurer of the Midland County Young Lawyers Association.

Certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Estes is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He also is active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the First Presbyterian Church of Midland.

He received his Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University in 1977 and his Juris Doctor from Baylor Law in 1979.

"Harper is truly deserving of this, and many other, honors," said Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law. "He is a highly skilled, accomplished and thoughtful lawyer. In addition to a successful legal career that spans over four decades, he has selflessly devoted his time and energies in service of the legal community in Texas. He lives a life devoted to service: service to the law, his community, and his church.”

Harper and his wife Dee have lived in Midland Texas since 1980. In addition to his storied legal career, Harper occasionally sings with, and writes songs for, the Backsliders, a bluegrass-gospel group.

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Established in 1857, Baylor University School of Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of American Law Schools, Baylor Law has more than 7,600 living alumni and a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts among its notable alumni two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as among the best in the nation at No. 2, while the Law School is ranked in the Top 50 of the 2021 edition of “Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the “Best School for Practical Training,” and in the top 15 “Best Law School Facilities” in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award’s inception in 1984. Learn more at

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at

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