by Andrew M. Jones
E. Leon Carter has been named the Dallas Bar Association’s 2019 Trial Lawyer of the Year. The award is fitting for Carter, who is well known in Dallas both for his effective work in the courtroom and his generous support of the community and the legal profession.
Carter has been a fixture of the Dallas trial bar for some three decades. After cutting his teeth in law as an assistant attorney general, and later an assistant district attorney, Carter joined Jackson Walker, where he rose to partner in the litigation section. He ultimately founded his own firm, merged with another, and later founded his current firm, now known as Carter Arnett.
He has tried more than 100 jury cases at the state and federal level. He handles plaintiff and defense matters in exceptionally diverse practice areas ranging from commercial litigation to product liability, to First Amendment, antitrust and employment. There are few areas of litigation that he has not handled. Carter’s client base has run the gamut to a degree far beyond that of most attorneys, from AT&T, to Exxon Mobil, to the City of Dallas, to Parkland Hospital.
Carter is a member of the International Society of Barristers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the Litigation Counsel of America. He has served as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and The University of Texas at Arlington. Among many other honors, Carter has been named a Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyer, included in Levine Leichtman Capital Partners’ Best Lawyers in America, and named as one of Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America.
Leon and his wife Debra have been consistent and extraordinarily generous supporters of the Dallas community. The Carters are long-time supporters of the DVAP Equal Access to Justice Campaign, with donations well into the six figures. Carter calls his family’s support of the EAJ Campaign to be part of a spiritual mandate to help the less fortunate. Carter is also a Life Fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation.
His father passed away when Leon was just three years old. One of five children, he was raised in the East Texas town of Carthage, a town of 6,000 people, where he proudly credits his mother and extended family for helping to raise him and shape him into a good student under modest circumstances. After high school, Carter went on to graduate from East Texas Baptist College in Marshall, where he played basketball and earned a degree in history and pre-law. After a brief high school teaching career, he commenced studies at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where he graduated in 1986.
Carter’s community service also includes volunteering on the boards of Vickery Learning Center, Camp John Marc, the Martin Luther King Center, the Volunteer Center of Dallas, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Carter has been recognized for his community service in a number of ways, including being honored as recipient of the DBA’s 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award.
Carter has also served the Dallas Bar Association in numerous capacities, including time as DBA Director and serving on committees pertaining to the judiciary and unauthorized practice of law, to name a few. His service extends to the state level as well, through his service with the Litigation Council of the State Bar of Texas, and as a State Bar director for District 6.
Congratulations to Leon Carter, this year’s Dallas Bar Association Trial Lawyer of the Year.
Andrew M. Jones is co-chair of the Publications Committee and serves as Senior Director, Legal Counsel to Epsilon Data Management Services, LLP. He can be reached at email@example.com.