by Shonn Brown and Josh Sandler
On January 20, 2018, Michael K. Hurst will lead the Dallas Bar Association into its 145th year as its President.
“I have a habit of writing down words to describe people when I first meet them,” said Mike Lynn, of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, LLP. “For Michael, I wrote that he is ‘bright, deferential, trustworthy, supportive, and ambitious. I like him.’ Not a bad description of my partner who sincerely cares about lawyers, the practice of law, and our profession.”
We always tell our children that actions speak louder than words. In Michael’s case, his actions speak volumes. Those who work with Michael know he is devoted to his family, the practice of law, the community, and his colleagues. His professional life serves as a living embodiment of the DBA’s mission statement, which is to “serve and support the legal profession in Dallas and to promote good relations among lawyers, the judiciary, and the community.”
As the solo Chair of the Equal Access to Justice Campaign in 2013, Michael raised a record amount of legal aid for low-income families and individuals. As a co-chair of the Pro Bono Activities Committee, he helped provide free legal help to the low-income residents of Dallas County. Michael served as President of the Community Service Board and even received the Lois Bacon Special Services Award for his pro bono work.
Michael leads by example. When he leads, he brings his friends and colleagues along with him. Ever since we have known Michael, he and has family have selflessly delivered Thanksgiving meals to families who receive pro bono legal services. Illustrative of his style of leading by example, this annual practice has expanded and now, leaders within the DBA, as well as those within his law firm, help needy families every Thanksgiving. Michael’s leadership and efforts to fund pro bono legal services will be a prominent part of his programming this year as he develops a Pro Bono Endowment, having already secured significant gifts from individuals and corporations in Dallas including Michael and his wife, Jane Rose Hurst.
An accomplished trial lawyer, Michael is consistently ranked as amongst the best attorneys around. Both of us have tried cases with Michael and are constantly impressed by how sharp, well-reasoned, and personable he is. Don Godwin, a former law partner of Michael’s, said of him: “Michael and I tried several jury trials together dating back to the 90s. He is a natural in the courtroom with a very accomplished and proven ability to communicate very well with juries and judges. He is a gifted trial lawyer with a disarming manner. He can be a fierce cross examiner and in a moment’s notice can be as mild mannered as needed for the circumstance.”
U.S. News & World Report selected Michael as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in Commercial Litigation, Labor & Employment Litigation, and Real Estate Litigation. Texas Monthly named Michael as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in Texas.” Benchmark Litigation selected Michael as a “Litigation Star.” The Dallas Business Journal named Michael as one of the “Top 15 Business Defenders.” He also received outstanding young lawyer awards from both the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers (DAYL). He was also the first male to receive the Dallas Women Lawyers Association’s Louise B. Raggio Award.
Even more impressive, those serving as opposing counsel to Michael note his ability to vigorously advocate for his clients while maintaining high professionalism standards. “He is very professional and a credit to the legal profession,” added Mr. Godwin. “He loves the practice of law, and more than anything professionally, he likes helping people try to solve their problems. I am proud to call Michael a friend and someone I trust, respect and admire.”
Michael has served in numerous roles with the DBA, including chairing the Morris Harrell Professionalism Committee, and starting the Day of Civility in Dallas in 2016. During Michael’s tenure as DBA President, not only will Dallas observe the Day of Civility, but the State Bar of Texas will also implement the program so that lawyers and judges in Texas will observe a Statewide Day of Civility.
Michael has additionally received outstanding mentor awards from both TYLA and DAYL, where he also served as President. The recommendations for his receipt of this award from lawyers-to-be, young lawyers, experienced lawyers, and his legal staff resonated the same message: that Michael gives his all selflessly to the legal profession.
“Michael has a track record of mentoring young lawyers and giving them career-changing opportunities to expand their practice experience,” said Judge Tonya Parker, District Judge for the 116th Judicial District Court. “He has led on almost every issue facing our bar, from equal access to justice to leveling the playing field for female attorneys. He is a credit to our local bar and entire profession.”
Mentoring, especially of trial lawyers, is of extreme importance to Michael. It is no surprise that one of his programs this year, the “Second Chair Program,” will focus on providing young civil trial lawyers with trial experience alongside seasoned criminal lawyers.
Michael’s clients know they are retaining not only a zealous advocate, but also a committed leader in the bar and greater community. One of his clients, David Hernandez, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., said, “I have worked with Michael for years and know firsthand how deeply he cares about his clients, his partners, fellow members of the Bar, and the Dallas community as a whole. We at Hunt are thrilled that he has been selected to lead the DBA and plan to support him in his initiatives to enhance the support services that the DBA is able to provide in our community.”
“Michael’s vision and tenacity for fulfilling it will make our bar better for everyone,” said Judge Parker. “We are truly blessed to have his devotion and leadership,” added Mr. Lynn.
In the words of Mr. Hernandez, Michael K. Hurst, the 109th President of the Dallas Bar Association, “will make all of us and our community a better place.”