HBA Recognizes Outstanding Service at Annual Dinner

HBA President Benny Agosto, Jr. presents the inaugural award to Justice Sondock.The Houston Bar Association (HBA) presented a new award for outstanding achievement and leadership for women in the law to the Hon. Ruby Kless Sondock at its annual dinner meeting on May 16th at The Houstonian. Benny Agosto, Jr., a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz, took office as the new president of the HBA, succeeding Warren W. Harris, a partner at Bracewell LLP.

Justice Sondock was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas and the first woman District Court Judge in Harris County. The University of Houston established the biennial “Ruby Kless Sondock Lecture in Legal Ethics” in her name, and in 2015, she was recognized as a Texas Legal Legend by the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas. In creating the Justice Ruby Kless Sondock Award, Agosto said “Justice Sondock is a trailblazer for women in the law in every sense of the word. This award will be given in the future to top women attorneys in the Houston Bar.”

Justice Eva Guzman and Warren Harris present the Justice Cook Awards to Harry Reasoner and Fred Hagans.In 2018, Harris established the Justice Eugene A. Cook Award, named after the former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and former HBA president, as the HBA’s highest award for professionalism. Justice Cook was the inaugural recipient. This year, Harry M. Reasoner of Vinson & Elkins LLP and Fred Hagans of Hagans, Montgomery & Rustay, P.C., were both honored with Cook Awards, which were presented by Hon. Eva M. Guzman of the Supreme Court of Texas.

In 2009, the Supreme Court of Texas appointed Reasoner as chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which seeks to improve access to legal services for the millions of Texans who cannot afford legal representation in life-changing situations. A decade later, he still leads the Commission. Reasoner has been honored with the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Fifth Circuit, the Lola Wright Award for legal ethics from the Texas Bar Foundation, and the Award for Achievement in the Pursuit of Justice for All from the Center for American and International Law.

Hagans was appointed in 1989 as co-chair of the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professionalism, where he led the effort to make Texas the first state to adopt a mandate to govern the conduct of all lawyers. This year, the Texas Lawyer’s Creed celebrated its 30th anniversary as the mandate for professional conduct by Texas attorneys. Hagans was honored with the Lola Wright Award for legal ethics from the Texas Bar Foundation, served on the advisory council for the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, and has been active with the HBA Professionalism Committee.

Warren Harris and Justice Brett Busby stand alongside award winner Christopher Prine.Christopher A. Prine was honored with a special HBA President’s Award for Service to the Houston Courts of Appeals. Prine serves as the Clerk of Court for both the First Court of Appeals and the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, where he oversees and coordinates the courts’ administrative operations, including human resources, information technology, purchasing, accounting, and budgeting, in consultation with nine justices on each court.

Harris also honored outstanding service and leadership among the association’s 32 committees and 26 sections with President’s Awards.

  • Hon. Mike Engelhart of the 151st District Court; Hon. Erin Lunceford of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP; and Hon. J. Brett Busby of the Supreme Court of Texas, as co-chairs of the 25th Bench Bar Conference.
  • Rob Ford of Fogler, Brar, Ford, O’Neil & Gray and Sean Gorman of Bracewell LLP, as co-chairs of the Continuing Legal Education Committee.
  • Hon. Michael Gomez of the 129th District Court; Hon. Daryl Moore of the 333rd District Court; and Stewart W. Gagnon of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, as co-chairs of the County Law Library Committee.
  • Jacquelyn McAnelly of Cersonsky, Rosen & Garcia, P.C.; Amy Parker of Bracewell LLP; and Angeles Cassin of Greenberg Traurig LLP as co-chairs of the Gender Fairness Committee.
  • Maria Lowry of the Law Office of Maria S. Lowry and Tara Grundemeier of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP as co-chairs of the Lawyers for Literacy Committee.
  • Diana Gomez of Chamberlain Hrdlicka, Staci Wilson of Bracewell LLP; and Ashley Brown of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as co-chairs of the Minority Opportunities in the Legal Profession Committee.
  • William G. Hagans of Hagans, Montgomery & Rustay, P.C.; Yvonne Ho of Bracewell LLP; Lonny Hoffman of the University of Houston Law Center; and J. Robin Lindley of Buck Keenan LLP as co-chairs of the Professionalism Committee.
  • Hon. Ken Wise of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals and Richard F. Whiteley of Bracewell LLP as co-chairs of the Teach Texas Committee.
  • Polly Fohn of Haynes and Boone as editor in chief of The Houston Lawyer, the HBA’s professional magazine.
  • Mark Trachtenberg of Haynes and Boone as chair of the HBA Appellate Practice Section.
  • Angela Stout of The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. as chair of the HBA Family Law Section.
  • Nicole Singer of Santo Petroleum LLC as chair of the HBA Oil, Gas & Mineral Law Section.