NEWS

RANDY HOWRY FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE STATE BAR OF TEXAS

March 5, 2015 | In The News

Randy HowryIt is an honor to be nominated as a candidate for President-Elect of the State Bar of Texas and to know that my colleagues believe that I am ready to serve in that position. Since my nomination, I have listened, learned, and identified several areas where improvement is both needed and achievable. I believe that my experience in and out of the law has prepared me to lead in a way that will bring greater meaning and value to the State Bar for all Texas lawyers. My Texas roots run deep. I was raised in a small town north of Austin, and completed both my undergraduate degree and law degree in Texas. As a legal professional, I worked for large Austin firms, as well as owning my own small firm there for the past 20 years. I gained valuable insight and perspective not only from my firm experience, but also through my years of volunteer work for the legal profession in Texas, my community service and teaching as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas  School of Law.

Regarding my plan as President-Elect, first I promise to listen in order to understand the issues you face in your practice and your life as a lawyer. Bold steps must be taken to counter the perception that State Bar exists to benefit only a select few. To that end, I will work for all of our members and always be mindful of the stated mission of the State Bar to promote the ethical practice of law and demonstrate the importance of lawyers within our society.

During my tenure, I will work to:

  • Listen carefully to the concerns and opinions of Texas lawyers
  • Continue to make the State Bar more relevant, accessible and increasingly transparent for all lawyers
  • Assure the State Bar is maintained through the Sunset Review process
  • Make affordable health insurance a reality for all of our members
  • Increase the public’s awareness of the importance and contributions of lawyers

For 30 years, I have been privileged to practice law and to meet lawyers from all over Texas. My experience in representing clients, teaching, in service to the Bar and the larger community has given me a sensitivity to, and awareness of, the needs of lawyers in various disciplines around the state. If elected, I will lead with focus and determination so that all lawyers truly benefit from their membership. I am honored to be considered for President-Elect of the State Bar, and I humbly ask for your support and your vote.

With best wishes,
Randy Howry

Learn more about Randy Howry

Litigator of the Week: Long Route to Victory

October 29, 2012 | Articles, Tim Herman

By Miriam Rozen

Texas Lawyer

Tim Herman says it took eight years for his client’s complicated breach-of-contract dispute against Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) to get to trial, but it was worth the wait. In an Oct. 5 final judgment, his client Agent Systems Inc. won $1.41 million — $850,000 in damages plus $566,000 in prejudgment interest.

“It gives us some satisfaction because I’ve been trying to get them into court for years,” Herman, a partner in Austin’s Howry, Breen & Herman, says of DART and The T, both quasi-government agencies.

In its Sept. 24, 2010, amended petition in Agent Systems Inc. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, et al., the plaintiff alleged it entered into a 2009 contract with the defendants to produce fare box systems, but the defendants refused to pay for them and for the material necessary for the prototypes.

In its Oct. 2, 2009, answer, The T argued among other things that Agent Systems was barred from recovery “pursuant to the doctrine of the law of the case” and that the statute of limitations barred the plaintiff’s claims. In its March 18, 2008, answer, DART alleged among other things that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that Agent Systems had assumed risk when it produced the fare box systems.

After two weeks of trial testimony, the jury issued a verdict on Nov. 22, 2011, that found the defendants failed to comply with the contract. Jurors awarded Dallas-based Agent Systems $850,000 in damages for the costs to produce the fare box systems. In his final judgment, 236th District Judge Tom Lowe of Tarrant County added $566,000 in prejudgment interest for a total of $1.41 million.

Albon O. Head Jr., a partner in the Fort Worth office of Jackson Walker who represents The T, says his client will continue fighting the plaintiff in court. “We think that the judgment was entered incorrectly,” he says.

DART senior associate general counsel Harold McKeever says the agency will appeal the final judgment. McKeever says the case presented difficulties for both sides because the factual background was based on events that occurred more than a decade ago.

Wilkerson Listens, Strives to Make a Difference

September 5, 2012 | Articles, Glen Wilkerson

AUSTIN LEGAL NEWS

To Glen Wilkerson, it’s all about the people.

Whether it’s a client, a fellow lawyer, or a judge, the long-time Austin attorney has perfected the art of fully engaging with whoever he is sitting across from.

So it’s no surprise that Wilkerson, who joined the law firm of Howry, Breen & Herman LLP over the summer, identified one of the biggest challenges for the profession as making the cost of litigation more reasonable. “Most folks as individuals cannot afford to litigate even what may appear to be the simplest of disputes,” he said. That bothers Wilkerson. And that fact makes him a good candidate for our Wednesday interview.

1. Describe your legal practice?

GW: Howry, Breen & Herman LLP is primarily a civil litigation trial firm. These cases can be in state court, federal court, or, as is becoming more common, arbitration. The types of cases range from Plaintiff’s personal injury, commercial and construction to commercial, real estate, construction and professional negligence defense which is an accurate description of my practice over the last 8 to 10 years. Our clients vary from individuals, small businesses, to large corporate and/or institutional entities. Our client objective is to zealously but ethically advocate our client’s causes with the goal of reaching an acceptable outcome, hopefully on some economic basis that makes sense in the context of what and how much is in dispute.

2. What are the biggest challenges of those you interact with on the legal front, and what is the key to helping them resolve those challenges.

GW: The biggest challenge is the cost of litigation. It is too expensive. Most folks as individuals cannot afford to litigate even what appear to be the simplest of disputes. The result of this reality is that the court house – – and access to public justice – – is off limits to all but a select few who are either very poor or those who are more wealthy. The paramount key to keeping the cost of litigation more within limits is teamwork between lawyers and our judges. Judges must be involved with limiting cost, and certainly the exploding cost of “electronic discovery” (i.e. emails etc.). If they are not involved, then the lawyer who hopes to control costs has no hope of avoiding an aggressive opposing advocate who has no practical limit on what his or her client will spend. Some judges are very willing to get involved in this process. Others are not. Our legal rules for resolving disputes are sound and make good sense. But they cannot be enforced to perfection in most cases in that the costs will be great for the amount in controversy. If this issue is not resolved, soon a high proportion of citizens will attempt to represent themselves. Legal Zoom is not just a product. It is a harbinger of the future for the masses if judges, lawyers and the legislature do not get their act together and make the system work for all citizens with less transaction costs.

3. What are the advantages to practicing law in Austin?

GW: The lawyers in Austin are of the highest quality and comparable to any city or location in the country. Our Judges on every level – – city, state, federal – – are impartial, well respected and interested in reaching a fair and common sense result with the bounds of the law. We are blessed to be able to state to our clients that they can almost always get a fair trial in our area.

4. How would you improve the legal profession if you could?

GW: I would dramatically increase the interaction of the lawyers and the judges. When I started my practice, you could have personal access to a district judge. You could get something done at a fraction of the cost of what the time and effort is today. You knew with a phone call what could be done and what should be done. This gave you the ability to reduce the costs to the client to achieve a reasonable result. If the lawyers are left to themselves, there is too much of a driving incentive to keep the file open so that there is no control over costs. The judge can do so much to move the process along – – fairly and with due regard for all parties. Whether this will ever happen again is an open question. I am not holding my breath

5. What or who was your biggest influence in becoming a lawyer and why?

GW: Fear. My wife. I got married. Two months later I started law school. I had no job prospects if I failed. My wife was smart, capable, a hard worker, and had a wonderful job. I was under the gun. I had met one lawyer for about 10 minutes before I went to law school. I was blessed to go to the University of Texas Law School. At the time I was in law school, Texas was, I believe, in the top five law schools in the country. Dean Page Keeton was a legend. If you applied yourself, one had all the opportunity and the world at your doorstep.

2012 Lawyer of the Year

June 7, 2012 | Randy Howry

Randy Howry has been named
‘2012 Best Lawyer of the Year’ by Best Lawyers®.

Randy-Howry_2012LawyeroftheYear

Click to download and read article.

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Texas Super Lawyers for Seven Years

June 5, 2012 | Articles, Randy Howry, Sean Breen, Tim Herman

Download the PDF to read the article

Retired Austin officer fired by Texas police union may sue former employer

May 31, 2012 | In The News, Sean Breen

By Patrick George

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Former Austin Police Association President Mike Sheffield is seeking depositions for a possible lawsuit against his ex-employer, the largest statewide police union in Texas, which fired him last year.

Sheffield, who was fired in July from his job as a training coordinator and field service representative for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, has filed a petition in Travis County state District Court seeking information about allegations of criminal acts he said the union made against him.

The petition said Sheffield is seeking documents and statements from union Executive Director John Burpo, board President Todd Harrison and others.

“We have reason to believe the board members of CLEAT circulated defamatory comments and wrongfully accused Mr. Sheffield of committing a crime,” said Sheffield’s attorney, Austin lawyer Sean E. Breen.

John Curtis, CLEAT’s corporate counsel, said the union is considering whether to pursue criminal charges against Sheffield. CLEAT provides legal representation, lobbying and other support services for Texas’ law enforcement officers.

“He took and destroyed work product we strongly believe belonged to this organization,” Curtis said, saying officials there believe Sheffield violated the state’s computer crime laws.

Breen said that Sheffield was specifically accused of deleting information from a CLEAT computer and that the accusations are false. He said that multiple agencies — including federal authorities and district attorneys in Travis and Williamson counties — did not bring charges against Sheffield.

“In law enforcement, reputation is everything,” Breen said. “When someone is accused of a crime, it cuts to the very heart of their integrity as a police officer.

Law enforcement officials discussed the matter last year, but CLEAT never formally asked the Travis County district attorney’s office to investigate the claims, Assistant District Attorney Gail Van Winkle said.

Sheffield served as president of the Austin Police Association union from 1998 until 2006. After retiring from the Police Department, he was employed by CLEAT until last year.

Breen said Sheffield has not decided whether to sue CLEAT and is pursuing a federal claim through the National Labor Relations Board to get his job back.

Curtis said CLEAT is looking into asking a federal judge to stop the possible lawsuit until the labor claim is resolved.

“This is just another legal shenanigan he’s pulling,” Curtis said. “The other shoe hasn’t fallen yet. It’s going to be a bumpy road.”

According to a CLEAT memo from July, Sheffield was fired for “interfering with the (Austin Police Association)” and for attempting to publicly discredit the statewide union.

Sheffield said he believes he was fired after he raised concerns about an arrangement between CLEAT and the Austin Police Association. Under that arrangement, Harrison, an Austin Police Department sergeant, worked for CLEAT full time funded by officers’ earned sick time while CLEAT gave the Austin Police Association $50,000. That was not mentioned in Sheffield’s termination memo, which he provided.

After the American-Statesman reported on the agreement, CLEAT began reimbursing the City of Austin for Harrison’s salary and benefits. He is currently vice president of the Austin Police Association.

Contact Patrick George at 
445-3548

CORRECTION: This story originally stated Mike Sheffield had been cleared of wrongdoing. Charges have not been brought against him.

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