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37 Headnotes 1 (2012)

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Dallas Bar Association


Paul K. Stafford, 2012 President

of the Dallas Bar Association

Dr. Walter Sutton to Receive

2012 MLK Justice Award

   Paul K. Stafford will be inaugurated on
January 21, 2012, as the 103rd President of
the Dallas Bar Association at the annual
Inaugural Dinner-Dance. Mr. Stafford
took the reins of our nearly- 11,000 mem-
ber organization on January 1.
   Mr. Stafford has enjoyed practicing
in a variety of environments and types of
law-a variety giving him great perspec-
tive in leading an organization as diverse as
the Dallas Bar Association. He first prac-
ticed law, after graduating from the Texas
Tech School of Law in 1994, as an Assis-
tant District Attorney in Denton County,
and then in Dallas County. In Dallas, he
served as a felony prosecutor, but later
changed his practice to general civil litiga-
tion. As a civil litigator, he began practic-
ing at Amis & Bell in Arlington in 1998
and later joined Werstein, Smith & Wil-
son. From 2004 until forming his own firm
in 2008, he practiced with Hughes & Luce
LLP (now K&L Gates LLP). Mr. Stafford
is now the proprietor of The Stafford Law
Firm, which focuses on complex com-
mercial litigation, business litigation, and
insurance litigation, as well as labor &
employment matters.
   Mr. Stafford grew up in Prairie View,
Texas, as the youngest of five children.
He graduated from Waller High School
as salutatorian, and lettered in football,
tennis and band. He then attended Texas
A&M University, earning a B.S. in Politi-
cal Science in 1990. At A&M, Stafford
received the President's Achievement
Award and the Former Students Associa-
tion Buck Weirus Spirit Award. He was
also a Distinguished Student, was active
in the Student Government, founded an
annual student leadership conference,
and served as Secretary of his fraternity-
Alpha Phi Alpha. During law school at
Texas Tech, he was a founder of the Black
Law Students Association, a member of
the Board of Barristers, and was Runner-
Up for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil
Rights Award. Paul left law school hop-
ing to become a successful litigator with
criminal and civil experience.
   Mr. Stafford is proud that, in addition
to reaching several of his professional goals,
he has been invited by his alma mater to
teach as an Adjunct Professor. Over the
years, he has taught Insurance Law, Trial
Advocacy and Interviewing & Coun-
seling. In 2007, the Black Law Students
Association, an organization he helped
establish at Tech Law in 1991, named him
as an Outstanding Alumnus. Stafford's
litigation experience has afforded him the
chance to try over 200 jury trials over the
years, and his experience, both as a pros-
ecutor and in his current practice, has
brought him plaudits. He was recognized as

Paul K Stafford

a Texas Super Lawyer in 2009, 2010 and
2011, and as a Texas Rising Star several
times before that. Eclipse Magazine named
him one of its Eight Most Dynamic Law-
yers in Dallas in 2008. Farmers Insurance
Group's Legal Department also named
him its Trial Horse of the Year two years
running based on the number of cases he
   Mr. Stafford also has a record of service
to the bar and the public. He has served
on the Dallas Bar Association's Board of
Directors since 2001, serving as its Chair
in 2008, and on the Board of Trustees for
the Dallas Bar Foundation since 2005.
Before that, he chaired several committees,
including Admissions & Membership and
Minority Participation. He also headed up
the Campaign for Equal Access to Justice
in 2007, a year in which the Campaign
earned a record-breaking amount.
   The Dallas Bar has, moreover, rec-
ognized Mr. Stafford for his service. He
received the 2004 Jo Anna Moreland Out-
standing Committee Award for his service
as Co-Chair of the Minority Participation
Committee. He was also awarded a Dallas
Bar Association Presidential Citation for
his work with the Brown v. Board of Edu-
cation 50th Anniversary Commemoration
Committee and a Presidential Achieve-
ment Award for his work as Chair of the
A Bar For All bar-assessment commit-
tee. And, in 2006, Stafford was the Out-
standing Minority Attorney for the Dallas
Bar Association.
   Outside the Dallas Bar Association,
Mr. Stafford served as president of the
J.L. Turner Legal Association, and has
just completed five years of service on
the Board of Directors of the Texas A&M
University Association of Former Students

   For almost 20 years, the Dallas Bar
Association has awarded the Martin Luther
King, Jr. Justice Award to a leader who dem-
onstrates the values and ideals of Dr. King.
This year's recipient, Dr. Walter L. Sut-
ton, Jr., graduated from law school at a time
when law firms in Dallas were not hiring
African-Americans because their clients
were not ready for African-American law-
yers. Yet, that did not deter Dr. Sutton from
embarking on a successful legal career of 41
years, in many instances becoming the first
African-American to hold the position.
   Dr. Sutton grew up in Marshall, Texas,
where he attended segregated schools. He
graduated high school at 16 and went to
college in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Sutton
majored in economics at the University of
Denver and was the first African-American
to become Student Body Vice President.
   He initially took a job with Ford Motor
Company in Dearborn, Michigan, where he
was responsible for the logistics of shipping
cars by rail all over the country. While in
Michigan, he met a judge from his home-
town who suggested that Dr. Sutton con-
sider going to law school part time while he
worked at Ford.
   To that end he attended Wayne State
University at night and performed so well
during his first year of law school that he was
offered a full scholarship to the University
of Michigan School of Law. After graduat-
ing from law school in 1970, he returned to
work at Ford as a staff attorney until 1972,
when he moved back to Texas to work as
the first African-American in Tenneco Oil
Company's legal department. Shortly there-
after, he was hired by Texas Instruments
(TI) in Dallas, and was the first African-
American lawyer there as well. At the time,
he was one of only 12 African-American
lawyers in Dallas.
   While working at TI, Dr. Sutton was
tasked with an environmental law issue,
which led to his specialization in environ-
mental law. As a result, Dr. Sutton became
a pioneer in the field of environmental law.
He continued working on various environ-
mental law issues for TI until he left the
company in 1988 to complete his course-
work for a Ph.D. in Management Science
at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).
Upon graduation in 1989, he became the
first African-American to receive a Ph.D.
from UTD.
   Dr. Sutton was then hired by Hughes
& Luce to direct the firm's expansion into
the field of environmental law. He was also
active as a lobbyist in Austin representing
25 corporate and association clients, includ-
ing Perot Systems. After leaving Hughes &
Luce in 1993, Dr. Sutton went to the Envi-
ronmental Protection Agency where he
became the first African-American to head

Dr. walter Sutton

up the regional counsel's office in Dallas.
   In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed
him as the Associate Administrator for Pol-
icy for the Federal Highway Administration.
Two years later, he was appointed Deputy
Federal Highway Administrator where he
administered a $60 billion budget and man-
aged a national staff of 3,000 employees.
   After leaving   the Federal Highway
Administration in 2001, Dr. Sutton became
the Chief of Staff/Special Assistant to the
President at UTD. There he served the

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