Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson Attorney Taylor Mohr Earns Family Law Board Certification

Taylor Mohr, an associate at Texas family law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, has earned Board Certification in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Mohr becomes the firm’s 14th attorney to earn Board Certification in Family Law, a distinction that has been earned by less than 1 percent of eligible Texas attorneys, the firm said in a release. Additionally, two of the firm’s partners hold Board Certification in a second area of practice.

“Having 14 attorneys board certified in Family Law is a great testament to the talent at our firm,” says firm name partner Keith Nelson. “We are extremely proud of Taylor for earning this recognition and for the work she does on behalf of her clients.”

Mohr joined ONDA in June 2018. Her practice involves divorce, modifications, enforcements and child custody. She also has experience in estate planning and elder law issues, the firm said.

“I’m passionate about family law and helping people who are facing one of the most difficult times in their lives,” says Mohr. “My desire to do my best and to be the best for my clients drove me to achieve this level of distinction in Family Law.”

Recognized in the 2017 and 2018 Texas Rising Stars listing by Super Lawyers magazine, Mohr also has been selected among the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Under 40 in Texas and the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Best Female Attorneys.

A graduate of Baylor University and Baylor Law School, Mohr is a member of the State Bar of Texas Family Law section and the Texas Bar College.



Bezos Divorce May Prove Even High-Profile Couples Can Divorce Amicably

Early reports on the pending divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie indicate that the couple, despite a combined wealth estimated at close to $140 billion, doesn’t have a prenuptial agreement, points out Androvett Legal Media & Marketing in a release.

“Although it goes against what many expect from high net-worth couples, it’s really not surprising if they don’t have a prenup,” says Dallas family law attorney Brad LaMorgese of Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. “This is a couple that married long before Amazon became a billion-dollar enterprise. Right or wrong, not many young couples of modest means enter into a prenup when they are just starting out.”

Absent a prenup, how their amassed fortune is divided might be dictated by geography. With their primary residence listed as Washington, a community property state, the property and marital assets accumulated during the marriage will most likely be evenly split.

“Almost all of their entire fortune was earned during the course of the marriage, and each had a hand in building Amazon, so it would be difficult to argue that they shouldn’t now share in those proceeds,” says LaMorgese. “There is more than enough money, which can make divorce go smoother as the couple isn’t going to fight for pennies. This type of divorce can be surprisingly amicable simply because neither spouse is going to suffer real financial hardship.

“However, even in an amicable divorce, there is still much work to do. The devil will be in the details. Even the most seemingly air-tight agreement can fall apart if there is a disagreement over the smallest issue. If emotions don’t get in the way, they should be able to sort this out.”



Democrats’ Long-Shot Plan to Stop Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

The Los Angeles Times reports that Democrats, though narrowly outnumbered in the Senate, are embarking on a Hail Mary campaign to block President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporter Sarah D. Wire explains: “Flipping a moderate Republican is probably their only hope. And that only works if they can keep Democrats who represent red states that Trump won from breaking ranks.”

Democrats are planning to stress Trump’s repeated promises to only appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Wire quotes Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary, who now runs the liberal advocacy group Demand Justice: “While these litmus-test-style commitments may have been politically sensible for Donald Trump at the time when he was running in the campaign in 2016, we believe they will come back to haunt his nominee in this summer’s confirmation battle.”

Read the LA Times article.



A Family Lawyer’s Perspective on Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a vindictive tactic aimed at punishing a spouse, writes Keith Nelson in an article for the Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson blog.

He points out that the subject recently surfaced after the news that a judge warned Angelina Jolie to allow Brad Pitt to spend more time with their children or risk losing full custody of them.

His article discusses how to prove parental alienation court, and the effects of parental alienation.

“Let there be no question: Parental alienation, once confirmed by experienced and trained professionals, is undeniably a form of child abuse that no child should endure,” Nelson writes.

Read the article.




Supreme Court Poised to Rule on Trump Travel Ban, Union Fees, Other Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court, winding down its nine-month term, will issue rulings this week in its few remaining cases including a major one on the legality of President Donald Trump’s ban on people from five Muslim-majority nations entering the country, reports Reuters.

“The nine justices are due to decide other politically sensitive cases on whether non-union workers have to pay fees to unions representing certain public-sector workers such as police and teachers, and the legality of California regulations on clinics that steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion,” write Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung.

On the subject of collecting fees for union from non-members, the court’s conservatives indicated opposition during arguments on Feb. 26 to so-called agency fees that some states require non-members to pay to public-sector unions.

Read the Reuters article.




Hours After His Divorce is Final, Man Accused of Killing Ex-Wife’s Attorney

A Georgia lawyer who represented a woman in a divorce told colleagues he was worried about his client’s ex-husband, and a few hours later the man murdered him, according to police.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Antonio Benjamin Mari, 41, died from multiple gunshots Wednesday afternoon, two hours after the final divorce hearing in a Bartow County court.

“After shooting Mari, [Walter Samuel] Radford called his ex-wife, Cindy Radford, to tell her he’d killed the attorney, according to Lt. M.E. Bettikofer with Cartersville police. From there, Walter Radford, 33, allegedly broke into his ex-wife’s house and shot himself while no one else was home. He was found dead in the Willow Bend Drive home at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday,” reports Alexis Stevens.

Mari had worked nearly 18 years as a high school history teacher before becoming a lawyer.

Read the Journal Constitution article.





Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson Adds Attorney Taylor Mohr

Boutique family law firm Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, has added Taylor Mohr as an associate in the firm’s Frisco, Texas, office.

“Taylor is smart, talented, and dedicated,” said partner Jeff Anderson, who manages the Frisco office. “When we met Taylor, we knew we found the right person and the right fit for our clients.”

In a release, the firm said Mohr joins the firm with experience in complex family law matters involving divorces, modifications, enforcements and child custody matters as well as a background in estate planning and elder law.

“I’m looking forward to working with this talented group of attorneys,” said Mohr. “Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson is well-known for its work on complex family law cases, and I’m glad to be part of this team.”

Recognized in Super Lawyers magazine as a Texas Rising Star each of the past two years, Mohr also has earned selection to the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Under 40 in the Texas listing and the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Best Female Attorneys. She is a graduate of Baylor Law School and earned an undergraduate degree in history from Baylor University.



The Court is Tiebreaker When Parents Can’t Agree

America’s favorite sport is at the center of a legal battle between divorced Pittsburgh parents. John Orsini wants their youngest son, who has a history of concussions, to stop playing high school football out of a concern for his safety. However, his ex-wife says their son understands the risks and supports his choice to keep playing. Since the divorced couple cannot agree on terms, the fight has ended up in family court, where a judge has preliminarily allowed the boy to continue to play.

In a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing, Dallas family law attorney Lon Loveless of Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP says when divorced parents cannot agree on issues involving their children, the judge in the case is asked to serve as the tiebreaker. Ultimately, he says, the decision will come down to what is best for the child.

Loveless explains:

“Due to the teen’s past concussion history, there is obviously an increased concern about him continuing to engage in contact sports. Although the parents want to be able to make this decision, because they cannot agree, this is a decision that will be left to the court. Even though he is 17, he is still considered a minor and therefore must abide by the court’s decision, but it has been my experience that because of his age a judge will most likely consider the boy’s input in making his ruling. But ultimately, the paramount issue for the court is what is in the best interest of the child. The court will undoubtedly seek input from medical professionals about the likelihood, and potential long-term impact, of another head injury. That input, not the wishes of either parent, will likely carry the most weight in this case.”

Paul Hewett Joins Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson’s New Frisco Office

North Texas lawyer Paul Hewett has joined the family law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, as a partner in the firm’s newly opened Frisco, Texas office.

“We are very pleased to bring an attorney with Paul’s reputation and deep ties to the Frisco community to our firm,” said firm partner and co-founder Keith Nelson. “Family law requires a unique level of trust with a client and a special understanding of what is most important in order to deliver the results that matter. That is exactly what Paul does.”

In a release, the firm said Hewett’s practice involves complex family law, including divorce, property characterization and valuation, and pre- and postmarital agreements. A former child support enforcement officer with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Hewett also focuses on child custody and enforcement actions.

He joins the firm from the Frisco-based family law boutique Woods, May, Rachel, Matlock & Hewett.

“The attorneys at ONDA are hands-down the best in Texas, and the opportunity to join a firm with such a phenomenal reputation was something I could not let pass by,” said Hewett, a longtime Frisco resident and a graduate of Leadership Frisco.

Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2008, Hewett is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the bar associations of Collin and Denton counties. In recognition of his family law work, Hewett has been selected to the Texas Super Lawyers listing of top attorneys in the state annually since 2013.



Valin Woodward Joins Langley & Banack in New Braunfels, Texas Office

Valin L. Woodward has joined Langley & Banack, Inc. in its New Braunfels, Texas office. Woodward is a native of New Braunfels and an active member of the community.

The primary focus of Woodward’s practice is family law, including divorce, property divisions, child custody, child support, enforcement, modification, paternity, grandparent access, termination and adoptions, and pre- and post-marital agreements. She also assists clients with the preparation of wills, durable powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney and directives to physicians. Woodward has experience with the probate of wills and other heirship proceedings.

Woodward is a Fellow of the State Bar of Texas, and admitted to practice in United States District Court: Western, Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of Texas; U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit; and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Woodward holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin where she graduated cum laude, and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law, graduating with honors.

Langley & Banack, Inc. is one of San Antonio’s largest locally owned and operated law firms, the firm said in a news release. The New Braunfels office currently is led by Justin Morley.


Join Our LinkedIn Group


Texas Court Fight Over Selena TV Show Highlights Estate Law Principles

A planned TV show about the late Tejano singing star Selena has hit a legal barrier, according to a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. Her father Abraham Quintanilla Jr. filed a lawsuit in a Texas court to stop the new series based on a book by her husband Chris Perez. Her father argues that only Selena’s estate can authorize the TV show and that because her widowed husband made an agreement for a portion of the estate, he can’t make his own separate deal for a TV show.

Estate planning lawyer Aaron Dobbs of the Sugar Land, Texas, office of Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC, says:

“Family settlement agreements, such as the one outlined by Mr. Quintanilla, are highly favored by Texas courts and generally will be upheld and enforced in a court of law. It appears that Selena’s family agreed on who may use her name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness in the media, and that authority may  lie with the estate or someone other than Mr. Perez. Such a family settlement agreement is a binding contract. So unfortunately for her husband, using Selena’s likeness without authorization may result in liability for breach of contract. He could be liable for damages.

“As with an individual’s property right in a bank account or house, an individual in Texas has a property right in the use of his or her name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness after death. This property right is transferable by contract or through a last will and testament, trust or other testamentary document. If the property right has not been transferred through one of those means, then Texas law dictates who inherits the property right. Of course, this does not necessarily stop family members from fighting over the inheritance and use of a deceased person’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness.”

Roy Moore, Alabama Chief Justice, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Order

The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore, was suspended on Friday for the remainder of his term in office for ordering the state’s probate judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage, reports The New York Times.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary did not remove Moore from the bench entirely, as it did in 2003 after he defied orders to remove a giant monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, but the order effectively ends his career as a Supreme Court justice. His term ends in 2019, and Chief Justice Moore, 69, will be barred by law from running again at that time because of his age, reports The Times‘ Campbell Robertson.

The unanimous nine-member court cited Moore’s “disregard for binding federal law,” exhibited in a January order to the state’s 68 probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and “his history with this court.”

Read the article.



Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Announces Recipients of 16th Annual Women’s Advocacy Awards

Legal Aid of NorthWest TexasLegal Aid of NorthWest Texas (Legal Aid) has announced the recipients of its 16th Annual Women’s Advocacy Awards to be presented on July 12 in Dallas. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas will receive the Business Leadership Award; Rev. Larry James and  CitySquare will receive the Nonprofit Leadership Award; Paul Zoltan will receive the Louise Raggio Women’s Legal Advocate Award; and Randy Johnston will receive the Champion of Justice Award.

The Women’s Advocacy Awards (WAA) supports civil legal aid for victims of domestic violence. Each year, the WAA recognizes exceptional advocacy on behalf of women living in poverty. This year’s event will be held at 6 p.m., July 12, 2016, in Arlington Hall at Lee Park.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has a long history of working to advance opportunities for women and children in Texas. BCBSTX has provided numerous grants through its “Healthy Kids, Healthy Families” initiative, partnering with nonprofits to offer sustainable programs to underserved communities and provides safe environments for growth. Notable among these are partnerships with the Caring for Children Foundation, which provides immunizations to uninsured children through its Care Van fleet, and the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation, which provides urban gardens along with healthy cooking demonstrations and mentoring provided to residents in need, as well as “Kids Meals,” a Meals-on-Wheels-style summer program that helps feed young children who may not otherwise have regular meals outside the school year due to limited economic and transportation resources.

BCBSTX also created the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas STEM Scholarship, which provides $20,000 scholarships to underprivileged high school seniors seeking college study in a STEM-related field. In a related effort, BCBSTX’s WISE group (Women Improving the Strength of the Enterprise) hosts Dallas Girl Scouts at its state-of-the-art facility, providing a full day of STEM-related activities for young girls. In addition, leadership within BCBSTX actively demonstrates its support through the encouragement of executives to hold Board seats with organizations including Texas CASA, REAL School Gardens, and It’s Time Texas. The organization also promotes advancement of women from within and encourages female leadership to participate in programs such as the Leading Women’s Executive program.

Larry James

Larry James has been involved in developing and implementing holistic, justice-focused approaches to congregational and community service and outreach throughout his career. Since 1994, James has provided executive leadership for CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries), a faith-based, human and community development corporation that battles poverty and its various related expressions in several inner city neighborhoods in Dallas and beyond. First serving as Executive Director and then President and CEO, James began his CEO role with a vision for CitySquare’s future fund development and external community endeavors. CitySquare offers a variety of services to its clients: legal services, youth and children’s ministry, affordable workforce housing, initiatives related to work force development and technology training, housing interventions for homeless persons, and spiritual development to neighbors living in the communities of East and South Dallas.

James, a native of Richardson, Texas, is married to Brenda Erwin. The couple, who reside in one of the neighborhoods CitySquare serves, have two grown daughters.

Paul Zoltan

Paul Zoltan is a long-time pro bono attorney volunteer specializing in immigration law. In 2014, inspired to do more when the influx of Central American women and children to Texas soared, Zoltan launched a pro se asylum workshop model that would multiply the representation provided to these refugees. In the last two years, more than 150 asylum applications for women and children have been completed at and submitted through these workshops. Through this project, Zoltan is credited with saving the lives of immigrant women and children who fled horrific and violent circumstances in their home countries.

Zoltan also mentors other attorneys, and works closely with the Catholic Charities team of AmeriCorps lawyers, whose caseloads number as high as 250 individuals and families. He helped the organization start its own legal program for immigrant children, training and mentoring staff in their representation of children in immigration court. He is a passionate advocate who fights against poor attorney practices in the field of immigration law, and is an inspiration not only to immigration lawyers, but also to those who practice in the area of public service law.

Randy Johnston

Randy Johnston has been a great supporter of women’s causes and legal aid for the poor for many years. Johnston, whose law practice focuses on the professional and ethical practice of law, is known both as “the lawyer with a ponytail” and the attorney who will sue other lawyers for malpractice and client abandonment. A founding supporter of the Dallas Bar Association’s Law Jam, a musical fundraising for the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP), a joint program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. During Law Jam 2, Johnston auctioned off the right for the winning bidder to cut off his ponytail following the performance of his blues band, Blue Collar Crime. Two groups paid $7,000 each for the right to cut off his ponytail, and all of the proceeds went to DVAP.  Randy was awarded a Presidential Citation by the Dallas Bar Association for his efforts to aid the poor.

He is a highly sought after speaker, presenting more than 100 speeches designed to educate other lawyers on how to avoid client problems while complying with the ethical rules and standards of professionalism. Johnston is proud to practice law with Robert Tobey, Chad Baruch, and his son, Coyt. He is married and the proud father of eight children, five of whom are strong, independent women.

Ramona’s Story

Ramona’s husband tried to kill her in front of a crowd of bystanders when he lifted her off of the ground by the throat. Before bystanders could intervene, Ramona was thrown onto the concrete sidewalk and she lost consciousness. A witness called police, but the abuser had fled the scene and his family and friends refused to cooperate with authorities or share the husband’s location.

With her husband on the run, Ramona, the mother of two children, filed for divorce pro se. Unsure how to proceed on her own, she applied for help at Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (Legal Aid). With the assistance of the Legal Aid attorney, Ramona amended the petition for divorce, and located and served her husband, who was in jail. Legal Aid assisted Ramona in finalizing the divorce, where she obtained sole managing conservatorship of her children, permanent injunctions against further abuse by or contact from her ex-husband, and no visitation of the children by their father.

The Women’s Advocacy Awards event helps provide critical civil legal aid for women like Ramona. This year’s WAA event takes place from 6-8 pm on Tuesday, July 12 in Arlington Hall at Lee Park in Dallas. Additional information is available on the 16th Annual Women’s Advocacy Awards Facebook event page, https://www.facebook.com/events/1572399809724590/permalink/1580695462228358, or by contacting Sam Prince at princes@lanwt.org.

Can ‘Love Contracts’ Govern Your Inter-Office Romance?

Many couples sign prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to cover division of property and other assets in the event of a divorce — there are even cohabitation agreements for partners who are not married but live under the same roof, reports Observer.

A “love contract” is a customized set of lifestyle clauses that can be inserted into any prenup, postnup or cohabitation agreement.

“A different kind of love contract applies when the two parties not only live together, but work together,” the report says. “When the legal document is signed in an office setting, the co-working couple promises that their consensual attraction will not lead to distractions or conflicts of interest in the workplace.”

Read the article.



Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson Partners Win D Magazine Honors

Two partners at the Texas-based family law firm Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, have been selected to D Magazine’s 2016 list of The Best Lawyers in Dallas.

This marks Scott Downing’s third appearance on the Best Lawyers list and the ninth time Jeff Anderson has earned this distinction. Both are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and are Fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

In a release, the firm said:

In addition to his D Magazine honors, Mr. Downing has earned recognition four times among Texas Super Lawyers’ Top 100 Lawyers in Texas and selection to The Best Lawyers in America 10 times. He has built his distinguished reputation on numerous complex and contentious trials across the state. Mr. Downing’s reputation for being a fighter in the courtroom brings an unexpected benefit, the ability to settle cases outside of that arena.

Mr. Anderson has been recognized twice among the top 100 Lawyers in Dallas/Fort Worth by Texas Super Lawyers, has been selected as a Texas Monthly Super Lawyer every year since 2003 – the year it started – and eight times to The Best Lawyers in America listing.  He grew up in a family of litigators where he learned a balance of aggressive trial skills and family values as he represents his clients in divorce, custody and property division.


Dallas Attorney Paula Bennett Named Partner at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson

Paula BennettThe family law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, has promoted Paula A. Bennett to partner in the firm’s Dallas office.

“Paula is among the most dedicated attorneys I have ever had the honor to work with,” says firm partner Keith Nelson. “We are very proud of her commitment and hard work on behalf of her clients, confirming her role among the leaders of this firm.”

In a release, the firm says Bennett represents clients in a wide range of family law matters, including divorce and complex property issues with a particular focus on matters that affect the welfare of children. Her work includes dealing with parental custody disputes, the termination of parental rights, custody modification, custody relocation and child support matters.

“I came to law as a second career and could not have asked for a better group of attorneys to work with,” says Bennett, who worked in pharmaceutical sales before attending law school. “There is a wonderful camaraderie that fosters a collaborative atmosphere benefitting not only the attorneys, but ultimately our clients as well.”

A 2008 graduate of Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now known as Texas A&M University School of Law), Bennett developed an interest in family law while working with victims of domestic abuse at the school’s law clinic. She is a 1991 graduate of North Adams State College in North Adams, Massachusetts. Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Bennett is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists.

With 16 lawyers and offices in Dallas, San Antonio and Frisco, Texas, Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, is one of the largest firms in Texas focused solely on trials and appeals in family law cases, the firm says in a release. Four partners are Top 100 Texas Super Lawyers. Every firm partner is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists and all are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Orsinger holds additional board certification in Civil Appellate Law.

Former Dallas Judge Marilea Lewis Joins Family Law Boutique

Texas-based family law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP announces the addition of former state district judge Marilea Lewis and Lon Loveless. Both attorneys are well-known for their work in family law, the firm said in a release.

“Marilea and Lon are among the very best family law attorneys in Texas and their experience will only enhance the expertise that our clients expect from our firm,” says partner Keith Nelson. “It is rare that you have the opportunity to simultaneously add two such accomplished attorneys, and we are excited to be working together.”

“Having tried a number of cases before Marilea when she was sitting as a district judge, I know firsthand the legal acumen she brings to our firm,” says partner Scott Downing.

Both attorneys join the firm from the civil litigation powerhouse Godwin Lewis PC, where Lewis was a name shareholder and head of the family law practice and Loveless was a shareholder.

“I have known and admired the Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson leadership team for many years. The opportunity to join such an established, respected boutique that focuses solely in my practice area was simply too good to pass up,” says Lewis.

Lewis served two terms as judge of the 330th Family District Court in Dallas from 2002 to 2010 after serving as the court’s associate judge from 1992 to 2002. She also served as the Associate Judge of Dallas’ 305th District Court from 1986 to 1992. In addition to her family law practice, she is a certified general and family practice mediator.

Loveless’ practice is devoted to all areas of family law litigation, including divorce, complex property division, and issues of child custody, visitation and support.

“The attorneys at Orsinger Nelson represent the very best in the practice of family law,” says Loveless. “I am very excited to start the next chapter of my career here.”

“I am excited and proud to welcome two lawyers who are at the top of their game with such distinguished reputations. They will be great additions to our firm,” says partner Jeff Anderson.


New Legal Resource Available to Michigan’s Transgender Community

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending discrimination against transgender people, has brought its “Name Change Project” to Michigan. The “Name Change Project” provides legal assistance for transgender people who are seeking to legally change their names to reflect their true identities as men and women.

“It is often intimidating and difficult for transgender people to navigate the legal system for a name change,” said TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman. “With pro bono support from attorneys at Dykema Gossett PLLC and other potential Michigan law firms who wish to participate, TLDEF will help transgender Michigan residents through the name change process.”

“We’re excited to be expanding our ‘Name Change Project’ into Michigan,” Silverman added. “It is vital for transgender people to match their legal names with who they are. Doing so makes it far easier for them to live their lives free from discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and public accommodations. We’re tremendously grateful to Dykema for helping us to get the project up and running in metro Detroit, and look forward to further partnerships with attorneys in the state to help us expand to additional areas.”

On Thursday, Sept. 24, TLDEF and Dykema will host a training for other Michigan attorneys who would like to volunteer on the on the project.

Dykema has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for the past two-years. The CEI is nation’s benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The firm is joining TLDEF’s “Name Change Project” to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion, while bringing a vital resource to underserved transgender community members who are trying to bring their legal documents in line with their true selves.

“We are thrilled to help improve the lives of transgender people in Michigan through this ‘Name Change Project’ collaboration with TLDEF,” said Heidi A. Naasko, Dykema’s Pro Bono and Diversity Counsel. “This firm is dedicated to serving communities in need. Assisting transgender people through the legal process of a name change to become their authentic selves illustrates that commitment.”

“Without the correct legal name I feared for my safety. As a transgender woman, being called by the wrong name in public made me a target for transphobic violence,” said 28-year-old TLDEF Name Change Project Client Racquelle Trammell. “The project helped me with something I couldn’t do alone. Trust me I tried. When I attempted to do this by myself I walked away disheartened, having been talked down to by officials and misunderstood. With this program I had someone who knew the ins and outs of the courtroom and legal system and how to file the paperwork precisely. I truly recommend this program to anyone who has had a hard time going through the name change process. I was able to walk across the stage with associate of arts in June as my authentic self and that was the most affirming thing that has ever happened to me.”

“Exploring a legal name change felt very daunting. For one thing, I certainly knew I couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses that were required,” said 52-year-old TLDEF Name Change Client Kara Marie Ramsey. “TLDEF along with Dykema compassionately and respectfully eased that burden, walking beside me every step of the way and navigating the legal logistics for which I had no comprehension. Prior to completing my legal name change I had to present a driver’s license with my birth name. It was quite humiliating and embarrassing having to explain to various officials why both the picture and name weren’t reflective of the woman standing before them. Now, with my legal name change, I have peace of mind, having updated my birth certificate, driver’s license, credit cards, voter registration, health insurance cards and many more vital documents. The “Name Change Project” truly saved my life.”

“Not having a legal name that reflects who I am as a transgender man has created major challenges including lost job opportunities and being outed and shamed in public places. It’s taken an emotional toll and made me feel incomplete,” said 25-year-old Jay Eric Theden, who is in the process of changing his name through the “Name Change Project”. “I believe that my life will be a lot easier once my name is officially changed. I will finally be able to begin a new chapter as my true self.”

Since the program began as a pilot project in 2007, TLDEF’s “Name Change Project” has helped more than 2,000 people in nearly a dozen cities including Albany, Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Rochester.

Family Law Attorney Hunter Lewis Rejoins Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson

T. Hunter LewisThe Texas-based Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, announces that T. Hunter Lewis has rejoined the family law boutique as an associate in the Dallas office.

A family law litigator and appellate attorney, Lewis began his legal career at the firm in 2010, before moving to Kinser & Bates LLP in 2012. His practice is focused on divorce; child custody, possession and support matters; complex marital property division; pre- and post-marital agreements; questions of paternity; and LGBT-related issues.

“We were very happy to be able to bring Hunter back to our firm,” says firm co-founder Keith Nelson. “Having worked with him previously, we already know he is an exceptionally talented attorney who understands the excellent client service we’ve established at this firm and his experience will further complement our existing expertise in family law appellate cases.”

Lewis has been selected three times to the Texas Super Lawyers listing of the leading attorneys in the state based on his work in Family Law, a unique accomplishment for an attorney of his age. He also was selected to the 2016 The Best Lawyers in America listing and is a member of The National Advocates: Top 40 Under 40.

He is a frequent author and lecturer on Family Law topics and is active in local and statewide Family Law organizations, holding multiple leadership positions in the Family Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association and serving on the Legislative Bill Review and Auction committees of the Texas Family Law Foundation. He also serves on the Mock Trial Committee of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.

Lewis is a 2010 graduate of Baylor University School of Law. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 2007.

With 13 lawyers and offices in Dallas, San Antonio and Frisco, Texas, Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP, is one of the largest firms in Texas focused solely on trials and appeals in family law cases, the firm said in a release. Five partners are Fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Every firm partner is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists and all are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Orsinger holds additional board certification in Civil Appellate Law.

Dallas Family Lawyer Jim Mueller Named President of National Legal Organization

James N. MuellerDallas attorney Jim Mueller, managing partner of family law firm VernerBrumleyMcCurley PC, has been appointed President of The National Advocates: Top 40 Under 40.

The invitation-only professional association is composed of the top lawyers from each state who meet stringent membership qualifications and whose practices focus on matrimonial and family law, bankruptcy law, immigration law, Social Security disability law, employment law, and wills, trusts and estates law.

“This group is made up of young, influential attorneys who exhibit superior leadership and performance, so it’s not surprising that Jim would rise to this position,” says VernerBrumleyMcCurley name partner Jimmy L. Verner Jr. “His clients are well aware of his honesty and integrity, and I’m sure this organization will benefit from those same qualities.”

Mueller concentrates his practice on complex divorce matters, high-asset property division and contested custody litigation in courts across Texas. He is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and currently serves as a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. He is a repeat honoree in the annual Texas Super Lawyers listing of the state’s top attorneys, among other professional honors.

Mueller earned his law degree with honors from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, and he received his undergraduate degree with high honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes College.

The National Advocates provides networking opportunities, continuing legal education and advocacy training for its members, who serve individuals and families in the American legal system.

VernerBrumleyMcCurley provides concierge-style representation to its divorce clients, the firm said in a release.