State Bar Director Spotlight
Michael K. Hurst
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo courtesy of Michael K. Hurst
Position: Name partner in Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann in Dallas
Board Member: District 6, Place 1
In addition to encouragement from my parents, I resolved at an early age
that I wanted to be an advocate and that I wanted to be in a venerable profession where I could achieve some profile.
As corny as it sounds, I really did set out to make a difference.
While there are many times when I think I embraced those opportunities along the way with pro bono cases, bar service, and happy clients, there were two jury verdicts where I was overcome with emotion because I knew that I was truly helping to make a difference and was using my advocacy on high-profile cases where the high-profile verdicts on big stages would indeed have lasting impact. While these two verdicts have not been close to the largest of which I have been a part, they provided me with the most realization that I am doing what I was supposed to do. In Rideau v. Keller Independent School District, my colleagues and I achieved a $1 million jury verdict on behalf of a special needs child for abuse and mistreatment. While the verdict was later overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, my good friend Breggett Rideau used this verdict to convince the Legislature to pass two bills requiring cameras in the classrooms of students with special needs. The other trial was a hard-fought multi-week trial on behalf of one of the business people I have most admired, Ray L. Hunt, and his company, Hunt Oil, where a jury came back with two counts of fraud against Honeywell related to defective aircraft engines. Ray was passionate about protecting his “work family” and taking on a Fortune 100 company to make sure that other consumers were safe and that Honeywell was held accountable. Ray trusting me with this important case and achieving this result with my team was my other aha! moment.
I am now at a special place in my career where I feel I can be pretty selective about what cases I take and which clients I will represent.
The cases I take are generally of a certain magnitude or interest that it makes sense for me and my firm to handle. I look to represent clients that may be demanding but are respectful and with whom I make a good team. I always say, “Clients generally hire lawyers after their own image.”
I have been involved in bar volunteering and leadership since I was a very young lawyer. My hope in becoming a State Bar director is
that I can further my advocacy for pro bono service, mental health awareness and acceptance in our profession, equality in gender and racial opportunities in our profession, preserving civil jury trials, and community enhancement and justice.
The toughest decision I have had to make as director is
determining what position our board should take and what healing solutions are available for our membership relative to statements our president made about Black Lives Matter prior to and during his State Bar leadership positions.
We can always do more, and by rotating our directors,
it provides new blood for new ideas and programming.
I plan to help raise awareness and support for the mental stresses
that always afflict our profession that have been greatly magnified during COVID-19.
I am very proud of this board for
discussing new diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to support the administration of justice and improve the quality of legal services and opportunities for all Texans. I believe we need a more racially diverse board—much more.
Being a lawyer provides us with exponentially more opportunities for advocacy than are available to the general population.
We have unique access to the courts, companies, politicians, etc. Be aware of these avenues and embrace the opportunities to use our voices for advocacy and for betterment. TBJ