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Rebekah Steely Brooker Publishes in Texas Bar Practice Blog, Urging Bar Members to Designate a Custodian Attorney

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Scheef & Stone estate planning and probate attorney Rebekah Steely Brooker, a member of the Law Practice Management Committee and Vice Chair-elect, and co-author John Meredith, Vice Chair of the State Bar of Texas Law Practice Management Committee, delve into the issue of practice management and planning ahead, particularly in the event of disability, impairment, incapacity, or death, in their article “Succession Planning: A Day to Designate Your Custodian Attorney,” published in the Texas Bar Practice Blog. The designation of a custodian attorney, they explain, is a critical aspect of law practice management and succession planning. In fact, the State Bar President inaugurated June 21, 2023, as the first annual Designate a Custodian Day, to raise awareness of the protections a lawyer should have in place in the event that an emergency prohibits the lawyer from being able to practice. The authors note that the appointment of a custodian attorney serves to protect not only their clients’ matters but also the lawyers’ own professional reputations. The authors recommend that in addition to designating a custodian attorney, members of the Bar pass on the favor by serving as a custodian for another attorney or attorneys. To learn more about the purpose and obligations of those chosen for this role, read the full article here.

Scheef & Stone Welcomes Bryan Haynes’ Return

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Bryan HaynesScheef & Stone is pleased to announce that Bryan Haynes has returned to the firm after serving as the Lead Trial Partner with the intellectual property firm Klemchuk LLP. Bryan has been on the front lines of litigation battles for more than 32 years, trying dozens of cases to verdict and final awards and handling countless evidentiary and non-evidentiary hearings. He has successfully tried and arbitrated patents, trade secrets, trademarks, fiduciary duty, complex contracts, business “divorces,” employment, probate, insurance coverage, wrongful death, product liability matters, and others.

“Throughout his career, Bryan has garnered a reputation for his exceptional legal skills, unwavering dedication, and unwavering commitment to achieving favorable outcomes for his clients,” said Founding Partner, Kelly Crawford. “His extensive expertise covers a wide range of practice areas, including litigation, banking, real estate, corporate and business, and intellectual property just to name a few, making him a valuable asset to our clients and our firm.”

“Bryan possesses a deep understanding of the intricate legal landscape, having previously worked at Scheef & Stone. This familiarity with our firm’s values, culture, and commitment to excellence will undoubtedly facilitate a seamless transition and enable him to hit the ground running.”

Through his experiences on both sides of the docket, Bryan has gained immeasurable knowledge and understanding of how judges, jurors, and arbitrators consider and weigh the rules, legal authorities, arguments, and, most importantly, assessing the credibility of witnesses and other evidence.

Bryan was admitted to practice in Texas in May 1991 and has appeared in courts in more than 90 of Texas’ 254 counties. He is also admitted to the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas, Northern District of Indiana, Western District of Michigan, Western District of Missouri, Northern District of Oklahoma, and each of the Districts of Colorado, North Dakota, and Utah. He has also appeared pro hac vice in state and federal courts in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

We pride ourselves on assembling a team of exception legal professionals who are dedicated to delivering the highest caliber of legal services. With Bryan’s return, our firm’s expertise and capabilities are further strengthened, allowing us to continue providing unparalleled legal solutions to our value clients. Please join us in welcoming Bryan back to the firm!

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Bryan, please contact him via this link.

Scheef & Stone’s Brent Kugler Obtains Defense Verdict for Video Products Engineer and Manufacturer

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Brent KuglerScheef & Stone, LLP congratulates litigation partner Brent Kugler for obtaining a unanimous jury verdict on behalf of his client, a manufacturer of HDTV modulators and electronics products for IPTV networks and digital RF systems, in a shareholder derivative suit seeking $3.7 million in the 16th District Court in Denton County, Texas.

District Court Judge Sherry Shipman entered a directed verdict on the plaintiff’s individual claims and on June 30 the jury issued a unanimous verdict finding the defendants not liable on the plaintiffs’ shareholder derivative claims after a five-day trial. The unanimous jury verdict found the defendants not liable and awarded zero monetary damages to the plaintiff.

“I am extremely pleased for the positive outcome for our client after a four-year legal battle. The jury’s unanimous verdict is supported by overwhelming evidence that the defendants did not breach their fiduciary duties or engage in any sort of fraudulent activity,” said Kugler, who served as counsel for the corporate defendant.

The lawsuit was brought by a minority shareholder against Kugler’s client, as well as the company’s CEO, and involved allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and other derivative claims. Kugler and Joe Ackles, counsel for the CEO, collaborated on the litigation strategy to defend their clients, ultimately securing a defense verdict. Kugler was assisted by Scheef & Stone associates Priya Jesani and David Wills.

Scheef & Stone’s Michael Smith Recognized as IP Trailblazer

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Michael Smith

Scheef & Stone is proud to announce that the National Law Journal named Michael Smith an Intellectual Property Trailblazer. The IP Trailblazers is awarded to professionals working as agents of change in their practice areas.

When asked about his path to becoming a trailblazer, Michael pointed to his pioneering work in 2003, starting an IP blog before the advent of Facebook or the smartphone. He launched to write about important IP cases coming out of the Eastern District of Texas and it went on to become one of the most enduring blogs devoted to IP law, still going strong 20 years later. In the years since, he has also launched TEXIPLAWBLOG devoted exclusively to important IP cases coming out of all of Texas and a podcast series, “Texas IP Roundup With Michael Smith,” in partnership with the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

Michael is a partner in the firm’s Marshall office, where his practice focuses on complex commercial and patent litigation in federal court. He is counsel of record in over 900 civil cases in the Eastern District of Texas. He is the former chair of the Eastern District’s Local Rules Advisory Committee; past president of the Eastern District Bar Association; Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation; two-time member of the Texas Bar Board of Directors; past chair of both the Texas Bar Litigation Section and Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors; and editor of “O’Connor’s Federal Rules Civil Trials” for over 20 years.

Selection criteria for the National Law Journal’s Trailblazers is available here.

Scheef & Stone Welcomes Michael Schofield

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Michael SchofieldScheef & Stone is excited to announce the addition of USPTO-registered patent attorney Michael Schofield as their newest Member to join the firm.

Michael began his career as a mechanical engineer where he developed an appreciation for the role that the law plays in protecting intellectual property. This appreciation led him to law school to become a patent attorney.

He has over a decade of experience preparing and prosecuting domestic and international patent applications and enjoys taking the time to understand the nuances of the intellectual property he works to protect.

“Michael’s start as a mechanical engineer provides him valuable experience as a creator of intellectual property,” said Founding Partner, John Scheef. “We are excited to have him on our team to help clients protect their valuable and hard work.”

Prior to joining the firm, Michael worked as a senior IP counsel at a large company focused on electrifying the commercial transportation industry.

Michael’s addition further solidifies Scheef & Stone’s position as a leader in the IP and legal community.

Scheef & Stone’s Mark Hill Elected to the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees

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Scheef & Stone congratulates our own Mark Hill on his recent election to the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees. Mark was elected on May 6, 2023, for the Place 5 seat and his ceremonial swearing-in took place at his first Board meeting on June 12th. “As a resident of Frisco for almost twenty years, I have seen the City of Frisco grow and succeed in large part due to the Frisco ISD,” Mark said. “We are blessed to have great parents and students throughout our community, as well as many of the finest educators in the State. Frisco ISD is a leader in public education, and I look forward to helping that tradition continue for years to come.”

With 75 campuses (and growing) located throughout Frisco, as well as in North Plano, West McKinney and Little Elm, Frisco ISD is one of the ten largest school districts in the State of Texas, and the largest “A” rated district in the state. It’s also the largest employer in Frisco with over 8,000 employees, boasts a student count of over 67,000, and has an annual budget in excess of $700 million.

The Frisco ISD Board is comprised of seven elected Trustees that serve as the district’s policy-making body and are elected by the citizens of Frisco ISD to three-year terms. For over 20 years, the Frisco ISD has partnered with the City of Frisco on numerous major projects including the Ford Center at The Star and Dallas Cowboys, PGA of America Headquarters, Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas, and many more.

Mark has dedicated himself to the best interests of the firm’s clients for years, and we applaud his determination to share that same heart of service to benefit the larger Collin County community.

Scheef & Stone Welcomes Joseph Baker’s Return

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Scheef & Stone is delighted to announce that Joseph Baker has returned to the firm’s litigation practice in Dallas as a partner. Joe will focus primarily on business and commercial litigation, with a focus in oil and gas litigation and oil and gas law, as well as experience in representing clients in construction, real estate, and insurance defense matters.

“We are excited to have Joe return to the firm and rejoin our group of exceptional litigators,” said Founding Partner Bill Stone. “His extensive experience in oil and gas litigation will be an ideal fit for the practice — we’re fortunate to have him back.”

Joe obtained his undergraduate degree from TCU, cum laude, and graduated from the Texas Tech University School of Law, magna cum laude. While in law school, Baker was a member of the Law Review.

He is licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico, including the federal courts for the District of New Mexico and the Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of Texas.

Outside of the courtroom, Baker is an active member of his community. He is board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midland and was formerly a board member of the Midland Teen Court.

Scheef & Stone Attorneys Assist in Company Acquisition

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Scheef & Stone is pleased to announce that two of our attorneys, Roger Crabb and Margaret Ricchi, assisted First Rate Ventures in a successful corporate acquisition.

The transaction involved First Rate, Inc acquiring the Wealth Management Platform including performance reporting, portfolio management, and trading & rebalancing from InvestEdge, Inc.

“This result was a culmination of excellent work by Roger and Margaret,” said Scheef & Stone founding partner, John Scheef. “We are proud of our attorneys’ commitment to achieving solid results for our clients.”

Roger has over 25 years of experience negotiating and documenting corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private and public market financings, and general commercial transactions.

Margaret is a corporate and business lawyer who uses her past litigation experience to help domestic and international businesses. With a focus on mergers and acquisitions, she is dedicated to guiding her clients through all their transactions.

Scheef & Stone Welcomes Marc McSwain to the Firm

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Marc D. McSwain

Scheef & Stone is excited to announce the addition of Marc McSwain to the firm’s Intellectual Property practice area.

Marc is a USPTO-registered patent attorney with over 24 years of experience in patent law, including several years as a patent agent before becoming an attorney.

“Marc’s breadth of experience in patent law is impressive,” said Founding Partner, John Scheef. “We are thrilled to have him on our team and are excited about the solid counsel he will provide to our clients.”

Marc’s experience includes identifying and protecting valuable inventions, directing technological improvements, and providing support for litigation and/or licensing activities for future business success.

The addition of Marc further solidifies Scheef & Stone’s position as a leader in the legal community and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead with him joining our team.

What Makes a Great Lawyer – Answered by Scheef & Stone’s Jane Taber

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Jane C. TaberThe firm recently celebrated having 13 lawyers named as D Magazine Best Lawyers by asking its attorneys what makes a great lawyer. Jane Taber provided the following insight, and we couldn’t have said it any better. Enjoy!

The nation is chock full of very good lawyers. Every year hundreds of lawyers graduate from the top of their classes, win prestigious awards for exemplary service, and provide superb legal representation resulting in tremendous results for their clients. As a profession, lawyers are intelligent and aren’t afraid to put in the necessary time and effort of lifelong learning to fine-tune their legal skills and gain experience. They have an uncanny ability to analyze information, strategically plan and implement a pathway for the best outcomes for their clients, and efficiently and persuasively write or present orally their clients’ position. So how does a lawyer become great and rise above her colleagues when she is surrounded every single day with good lawyers? A few characteristics make the transformation of a good lawyer into a great lawyer.

First is compassion. When a lawyer authentically and genuinely wants to help resolve a problem this is manifested as compassion. After all, isn’t that why our clients come to us in the first place—to solve their problem or avoid a future problem? This requires focusing on how others feel and understanding and accepting their perspective even if you don’t agree with it. Without compassion you can’t put yourself into your client’s shoes and fully comprehend the problems they face. Without compassion you can’t understand opposing counsel’s or the trier of facts perspectives. However, with compassion, and understanding the positions of all parties involved, you can anticipate the next steps of each party and take pre-emptive measures that are in the best interest of your client. You simply can’t provide the best solutions without compassion.

Secondly is assertiveness, which is different from aggressiveness. Assertive lawyers effectively state their opinions and make themselves heard in a professional manner, respectful of others. Aggressive lawyers attack and ignore others’ opinions, insisting their opinion is right and any other opinions are wrong. Much like lawyers without compassion, overly aggressive lawyers cannot possibly understand another’s position if it isn’t aligned with theirs, making them ineffective at understanding the client’s problem and incapable of providing an effective solution. Causing irreparable damage are overly aggressive lawyers, whose lack of respect for others undermines trust and leads to an uncooperative environment with mutual resolution or agreement often impossible.

Lastly is creativity. The number of different legal scenarios a lawyer is faced with over her career is innumerable. All clients, fact patterns, and issues differ. A solution for one client likely won’t work for another due to each client’s uniqueness. A great lawyer must be able to assess her client’s situation from all angles, understand what the client wants—and what her adversary wants, weigh all options, and muster up all the creativity she can to craft the perfect solution for the client that will also be accepted by an adversary. This requires coming to the table with compassion, listening intending to hear all persons at the table, and being assertive but not to the point of aggressive in advocating for a workable solution.

Yes, there are plenty of good lawyers that will do a fine job for most clients, but a great lawyer rises above a good one with her secret weapons of compassion, assertiveness, and creativity.