McCleskey attorney takes leadership role with Young Lawyers group
McCleskey attorney takes leadership role with Young Lawyers group

Michael Uryasz

Michael Uryasz, attorney with the McCleskey Law Firm, has been elected Place 4 Director of the Lubbock County Young Lawyers Association.

“I’m honored to be elected a director of the Lubbock County Young Lawyers Association and am looking forward to working with the other directors and officers to serve our profession and community,” said Uryasz.

Uryasz was a student body vice president at Texas Tech, where he got a bachelor’s degree in political science magna cum laude with honors and a master’s degree in Public Administration while he was also getting his law degree.

Three McCleskey Attorneys Considered Super Lawyers


Super Lawyers

The McCleskey Law Firm is the only Lubbock firm with three attorneys – Dennis Burrows, Dustin Burrows and Ben Davidson – rated as Super Lawyers in the annual nationwide listing.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

The attorneys were named in the following practice areas:

  • Dennis Burrows: Personal injury and personal injury/defense
  • Dustin Burrows: Business litigation
  • Ben Davidson: General litigation and personal injury/defense

“People in Lubbock, the South Plains and beyond know that Dennis, Dustin and Ben are excellent advocates,” said Jerry Kolander, McCleskey’s managing partner. “And we’re very proud to have more attorneys with this ranking in Lubbock.”

Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process, according to its website.

“Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, i.e., lawyers in private practice and Legal Aid attorneys,” it said on the website.

Click here to find out more about Super Lawyers and our attorneys that made the list.

Graf testifies on ‘Persuader rule’ case, which leads to temporary injunction against Labor Department

don_graf.jpg (210×240)Attorney Don Graf of McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf offered expert testimony last week that helped lead to a temporary injunction keeping the Obama Administration’s Labor Department from implementing its “persuader rule.”

Federal Judge Samuel Cummings imposed the injunction in Lubbock on June 27, calling the rule “defective to its core.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial said the judge’s ruling “could have been describing the Obama Administration’s entire regulatory apparatus.”

Graf was asked to appear as an expert witness because “for 35 years I was the only certified labor law specialist in West Texas.”

The Journal editorial also said: “The rule putatively updates the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which requires ‘persuaders’ hired by employers to communicate directly with workers to disclose their clients, services and compensation. The real goal is to muzzle employers and help union organizers.”

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John Shanklin Presents West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association Awards

McCleskey Law Firm Attorney John Shanklin, who also serves as president of the West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association, recently awarded two of the Top Grade Awards at the Texas Tech University School of Law Honors and Awards Ceremony.

“The West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association has been presenting these awards for a long time, and it was an honor to present those awards to such high achieving law students,” said Shanklin, who has been active with the bankruptcy bar for four years.

The awards are designed to encourage law students to take an interest in the nuts and bolts of bankruptcy law, the rights of both debtors and creditors, and the overall impact of bankruptcy policy on our society and the economy,” said Shanklin.

Bankruptcy Bar 2Carter Bowers won the Frank R. Murray Award, presented to the student with the highest grade in Creditors’ Rights and Bankruptcy.  The award is named in memory of Murray, a well-respected bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division. Murray served as bankruptcy judge for the Lubbock Division for 30 years from 1949-1979 until he retired at age 88. In 1985, when he was 94, Murray was reappointed bankruptcy judge on an interim basis.

Aaron C. Powell won the John C. Akard Scholarship, which goes to a second-year student who demonstrates an interest in commercial law and bankruptcy.  Akard, a retired United States bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, was at the ceremony.

According to a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal article written in 1999 when Akard retired, the judge’s example in the court inspired the West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association to establish the scholarship.  It went on to say:  “[Max] Tarbox, a Chapter 7 trustee and former chairman with the West Texas Bankruptcy Bar, said Akard is the Lubbock leader for bankruptcy attorneys. Akard created the Farm and Ranch Agribusiness Bankruptcy Institute, which has educated West Texas attorneys in agriculture bankruptcy case law.  ‘He treats people with dignity and respect,’ Tarbox said.  ‘You don’t find that everywhere. … He does respect the debtors as an individual and a person and he treats them that way in his courtroom.’”

Shanklin said the West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association is “made up of some great people, very active members of our community who serve the Lubbock and West Texas legal profession well.”

McCleskey Attorney Joins Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas

M. Kathleen Davidson of the McCleskey Law Firm became a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas in March 2015.  This college is an honorary society recognizing attorneys who perform 75 or more hours of pro bono legal services to the poor in a calendar year, and Davidson provided more than 80 hours of pro bono work last year.

Davidson said that she enjoys helping people who cannot afford legal services, but takes “special gratification when helping families get through crises.”  Some of the pro bono cases came from work McCleskey does with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and others came from referrals.

Davidson worked on family law cases – divorce, custody matters and Child Protective Services proceedings.

Davidson received her law degree at University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Legal Aid: Helping the Community
Abel Reyna - Legal Aid


When Abel Reyna grew up in the small Texas Panhandle town of Hart, if his family needed legal help they would not have been able to afford it.

“I keep that in mind while volunteering,” said Reyna, an attorney with the McCleskey Law Firm in Lubbock.

McCleskey attorneys offered pro bono legal advice through Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas for the month of January. McCleskey is one of four Lubbock law firms that “sponsor” a month, which means attorneys work two evening clinics where they counsel people who qualify for aid.

About 400 people are seen at the Lubbock clinics each year.

Besides the local law firms that volunteer, various other legal associations and the Texas Tech University School of Law sponsor other months to cover the year.

“We can’t say enough about our longstanding partners like McCleskey because when they help us they’re helping the poor,” said Tamara Duncan, managing attorney of Legal Aid’s Lubbock office.

Duncan quoted statistics that there’s one attorney for every 400 Texans above the poverty line.

But there’s only one legal aid attorney available for every 11,000 Texans below the poverty line, she said, according to statistics from Texas Access to Justice. The group also said Texas ranks 50th in access to legal aid attorneys.

“The support of our volunteers is immeasurable,” said Duncan.

KolanderMcCleskey Partner Jerry Kolander has been the firm’s contact “as long as we have done it,” which began in 1992.

“It’s important to our community and people who live here and around Lubbock to provide them with access to the legal system,” said Kolander.

The Need

The majority of cases seen at a Legal Aid clinic are family law, divorce with child support, for example, but those are not the only types, said Duncan.

Reyna, who was given Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas’ Legal Clinic Volunteer Attorney award in 2013, says he mostly sees family law cases and some renter issues.

Duncan added Legal Aid also sees consumer issues, wills, probate, eviction … “some can be very dire.”

But beyond the much-needed legal help, winning a case can do so much more, she said.

“You help someone receive child support and you can lift someone out of poverty,” she said.

An attorney negotiated a third-party debt collection. Someone gets help getting public benefits. Another person gets to stay in their house, she gave as other examples.

“We want to address poverty at its roots,” Duncan said.

How it Works

A potential client checks in with the front desk to show if he or she qualifies economically.

If they do, the person fills out a form.

It’s reviewed by people from Legal Aid.

The form is then handed to a volunteering attorney, who takes the person to a private room to meet.

The attorney can give them legal advice and then gives a recommendation to Legal Aid.

At that point, the attorney can take it as a pro bono case, Legal Aid will take it or it is denied.

McCleskey Attorneys

Kathleen Davidson

Attorney Kathleen Davidson, who is of counsel and works with her father, McCleskey partner Ben Davidson, worked on two Legal Aid cases in the past two years.

She helped a woman with a restraining order and supervised visitation.

“It made me feel good because I protected my client and her family from an abusive situation,” said Kathleen.

She said some of the people they see are in difficult situations and would have nowhere to turn for help if the attorneys didn’t help.

“People seem desperate for help,” she said.

Davidson recently joined the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, for attorneys who have done more than 75 hours of pro bono work in a calendar year.


Attorney Will Griffis also volunteered in January.

It’s our chance to give back and recognize those who need assistance and doors to lawyers’ offices where doors are not open to them.

“We’re able to help people in the community be more at ease with their issues,” he said.


Three Partners from Lubbock’s McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf Named to Texas Super Lawyers List

LUBBOCK, Texas – Prominent Lubbock attorneys Dennis R. Burrows, Dustin R. Burrows, and Benjamin H. Davidson, II, all partners in Lubbock’s McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf LLP, have been named to the 2014 Texas Super Lawyers’ list of the state’s outstanding attorneys.

To compile the annual listing, nominations are solicited from more than 70,000 attorneys across Texas. A blue-ribbon panel of lawyers then assists with final selections. The honorees represent no more than 5 percent of the state’s attorneys. The list is published in the October issues of Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines and appears online at

“These three exceptional lawyers are well-deserving of this recognition,” says Don Graf, a name partner who is now Of Counsel to The McCleskey Law Firm. “They have a wealth of skills that make them valuable to both corporate and individual clients. They are also attorneys with the highest standards for professionalism and ethics. We are proud to call them partners.”

Dennis Burrows is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He also maintains a certification in Civil Trial Advocacy from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury and commercial litigation.

Dustin Burrows’ practice is primarily focused on commercial and personal injury litigation defense. He has extensive experience in construction law cases, including representing owners, contractors, subcontractors and sureties in a wide array of contract and litigation matters.

Mr. Davidson practices in personal injury trial law, health care and commercial litigation. He has an AV Martindale-Hubbell rating and is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The McCleskey Law Firm handles commercial transactions and civil litigation for companies in the agricultural, banking, business, energy, health care, insurance, manufacturing and real estate industries. The firm’s attorneys have both the legal expertise and industry know-how to provide clients with exceptional counsel in a wide array of legal cases. They also provide decades of experience representing individuals in personal injury, family law, estate planning and other important matters.

For more information on the firm’s Super Lawyers honors, please contact Justin Franks at 806-796-7300 or

America: A Nation of Freedom

With Independence Day comes celebration with family, friends, and—depending on the year-to-date rainfall—fireworks. On the Fourth of July, we celebrate freedom, sacrifice, and the heritage of law and liberty that has shaped America into a nation of independent and resourceful citizens. On July 4, 1776, our founders adopted the Declaration of Independence, and eleven years later, they created our national constitution—a constitution intended to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, [and] insure domestic Tranquility. . . .” Independence Day calls us to consider our national documents, to ponder the meaning ensconced in the beloved rhetorical passages, and to remember that liberty is not self-sustaining. As the Constitution’s elegant, visionary preamble leads to its careful, clear articles, so liberty requires law. As the philosopher John Locke said, “ …the end of law is… to preserve and enlarge freedom.

For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is no law. . . .”[1] To borrow John Adam’s phrase, American government began as a “government of laws, and not of men.”[2] Because America is a nation of laws—not a nation of arbitrary fiat but a nation of duly-debated legislation—America is a nation of freedom. The highway of freedom—of independence—stretches like the Golden Gate Bridge into the crimson horizon of a nation etched with sacrifice and glowing with promise. But American freedom remains only because the cables of sound law keep the bridge suspended in place, raising it to maturity, rescuing it from the degradation of chaos and anarchy. This Independence Day, we celebrate liberty, and in so doing, we celebrate law. As the flags wave and the fireworks spangle the sky, may we remember both our freedom and the law that upholds it—these fine, twin sisters of our national hope.

– Andrew McCartney

[1]. John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Second Essay, Chapter VI, jmanis/locke/civilgo2.pdf (accessed July 1, 2014).

[2]. John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 7, (accessed July 1, 2014).

Attorney Dennis R. Burrows achieves recertification in civil trial law with The National Board of Trial Advocacy

LUBBOCK/TX -The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is pleased to announce that Dennis R. Burrows of the law firm, McCleskey, Harriger, Brazill & Graf, L.L.P. has successfully achieved recertification as a civil trial advocate.  Mr. Burrows has been a NBTA member in good standing for 20 years.  The NBTA was formed out of a strong conviction that both the law profession and its clients would benefit from an organization designed specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an attorney’s experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.

Dennis R. Burrows, is part of a growing number of trial attorneys that have illustrated their commitment to bettering the legal profession by successfully completing a rigorous application process and providing the consumer of legal services with an objective measure by which to choose qualified and experienced legal counsel.

The elaborate screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must successfully complete includes: demonstration of substantial trial experience, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to their competency, attendance of continuing legal education courses and proof of good standing.

Board Certification is the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve.  Board certifications are the only distinctions awarded by non-profit organizations.  The NBTA as well as all board certifying organizations are committed to safeguarding the public’s ability to choose a good attorney.

Dennis R. Burrows earned his undergraduate degree in Economics from Texas Tech University.  He is a graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law. Mr. Burrows is licensed to practice in Texas, and Colorado.  He is a member of Delta Theta Phi, the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Litigation Counsel of America, the State Bar of Texas Consumer Law Section, the State Bar of Texas Litigation Law Section, the State Bar of Texas Torts and Worker’s Compensation Law Section, the Colorado Bar Association, the Lubbock Area Bar Association, and the Million Dollar Advocates.

Approximately three percent of American lawyers are board certified, and Mr. Burrows is a member of a very select group who has taken the time to prove competence in their specialty area and earn board certification.

For more information on Attorney Dennis R. Burrows, please visit: and

McCleskey Attorneys Win Ruling on Behalf of Homeowners

Attorneys at McCleskey Harriger Brazill & Graf, working on behalf of homeowners Cory and Tamie Coltharp, have won a key appellate court ruling in a contract case involving their clients and a homebuilder. In March 2012, the Coltharps signed a three-page agreement to build a home in Slaton, Texas. But when a dispute arose and the Coltharps sued in state court, the builder argued the missing first page of the contract required such a dispute be subject to arbitration. The trial court ruled in favor of our clients and now, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo has done the same.

Click here to read the court’s opinion in the case.

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