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Beau M. Patterson joins Phillips Murrah Dallas office

Attorney Beau M. Patterson

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 3, 2020) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce Beau M. Patterson has joined the Firm in its Dallas-based office as an Of Counsel attorney. His addition to the Firm brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to fourteen.

Beau works primarily as an outside general counsel to his business clients, advising and assisting them in responding to existing legal needs while also helping to anticipate and plan for those that may not yet have come into focus.

Beau’s practice is primarily transactional, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, public and private capital raises, debt offerings, real estate transactions and restructurings. Prior to joining Phillips Murrah, Beau served for three years as General Counsel of a technology company which grew to more than 1,000 team members during his time with the company.

Beau was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and previously lived and worked in Oklahoma City. He attended Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Phillips Murrah opened its Dallas office in May of 2018.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Main: (214) 615-6365
Fax: (214) 434-1370​​

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SBA disaster loan summary

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on April 2, 2020.

This Gavel to Gavel column is a summary of our full-length Q&A on Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs.


By Phillips Murrah Director Alison J. Cross and Attorney Kara K. Laster

Phillips Murrah Attorney Kara K. Laster and Director Alison J. Cross

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which expanded two Small Business Administration loan programs – the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

Small business owners, in particular, are anxious to receive relief under the historic act. Below is a summary of highlights of these two expanded lending programs:

• PPP loans: Eligible businesses may use PPP loans for payroll costs, health care, interest on mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and interest on any other debt. Eligibility requires that applicants had no more than 500 employees per physical location, were operational prior to Feb. 15, had employees on payroll, and paid wages and payroll taxes. They may receive the lesser of 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs during the prior year or $10 million.

The dates to begin applying are small businesses and sole proprietorships on April 3 and independent contractors and self-employed individuals on April 10. The application deadline is June 30, but businesses should apply as soon as possible because there is a funding cap.

Businesses need to submit a PPP loan application along with payroll documentation to an approved lender. Businesses must certify that they suffered substantial economic injury from COVID-19 and that funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments.

• EIDL loans: Eligible businesses may use EIDL loans for working capital and they can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Loan amounts are based on actual economic injury. Eligibility requires that applicants had no more than 500 employees in existence as of Jan. 31 and that they suffered substantial economic injury from COVID-19.

Additionally, if the loan is made before Dec. 31 and is $200,000 or less, there is no guarantee requirement. Applications should be submitted directly to the SBA, which can be found on its website.

There are numerous additional stipulations and details related to these two small business disaster loans that cannot fit onto this column format, including loan forgiveness criteria, amount determination and approved lenders. Applicants should consider discussing their application with legal representation.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Kara K. Laster and Alison J. Cross contributed to this column.

Michele C. Spillman joins Phillips Murrah Dallas office

Michele C. Spillman

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 23, 2020) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce Michele C. Spillman has joined the Firm in its Dallas-based office as an Of Counsel attorney. Her addition to the Firm brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to fourteen.

With a background in both labor and employment law and commercial litigation, Michele represents employers in a wide variety of industries and provides advice and counsel on federal and state employment laws regarding discrimination, harassment, retaliation, medical leave requests and accommodations, and wage and hour issues.

Michele also assists employers with human resources matters, including employment policies, handbooks, severance agreements, non-competition matters, and internal investigations into alleged violations of various employment laws.

Michele is a member of the Texas Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association, and Attorneys Serving the Community.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Direct: (214) 615-6365
Fax: (214) 434-1370

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Phillips Murrah named among 2020 Best Law Firms in 45 practice areas

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that our law firm has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Law Firms” for professional excellence for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area and, for the first time, the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the following practice areas:

Oklahoma City

Tier 1

  • Administrative / Regulatory Law
  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Commercial Transactions / UCC Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Energy Law
  • Energy Regulatory Law
  • Government Relations Practice
  • Insurance Law
  • Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Litigation – Real Estate
  • Litigation – Tax
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Oil & Gas Law
  • Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
  • Real Estate Law
  • Trusts & Estates Law

Tier 2

  • Construction Law
  • Employment Law – Management
  • Health Care Law
  • Land Use & Zoning Law
  • Litigation – Banking & Finance
  • Litigation – Labor & Employment
  • Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
  • Public Finance Law
  • Securities Regulation
  • Tax Law
  • Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Tier 3

  • Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Law
  • Labor Law – Management
  • Litigation – Antitrust
  • Litigation – ERISA
  • Litigation – Trusts & Estates
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants
  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
  • Securities / Capital Markets Law
  • Technology Law
  • Venture Capital Law

Dallas/Fort Worth

Tier 3

  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

 

To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the United States.

Earlier in the year, Phillips Murrah announced that 48 of our attorneys are recognized by Best Lawyers in America for 2020.

Firms included in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence, quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a combination of client feedback, information provided on the Law Firm Survey and the Law Firm Leaders Survey and Best Lawyers peer-review.

Wolfe reflects on Law Firm growth in Dallas market for Texas Lawyer article

Thomas G. Wolfe, Managing Partner at Phillips Murrah law firm, was interviewed by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys for an article for Texas Lawyer on Law.com, giving insights on the Firm’s venture into the Texas legal market and on business strategies the Firm has found successful in Dallas.

Tom Wolfe is a trial attorney and commercial litigator whose practice is focused on complex business cases including product liability, oil and gas, mass tort and class action defense. Tom is also the president and managing partner at Phillips Murrah.

Read more below:

What do you view as the two biggest opportunities for your firm, and what are the two biggest threats?

For Phillips Murrah, our biggest opportunity is easy: TEXAS.  We opened our Dallas law firm about a year-and-a-half ago, and as a new entrant to the Texas legal market, we see virtually unlimited opportunities to gain clients, expand existing relationships and add top talent. Over the past 18 months, we have grown our Texas office from one full-time lawyer to five while increasing the quantity of work being handled for Texas-based companies more than tenfold. While much of that work is for new clients, we are also providing an expanding range of service to existing clients based in Texas and elsewhere.

The second opportunity for the firm is the ability to provide existing Oklahoma-based clients with niche services from Texas-based lawyers. In some cases, there are only a handful of Oklahoma lawyers in a niche practice while the pool of practitioners in Texas is much larger.

While Texas presents a huge opportunity, the size of the legal market and the number of competitors also serve as a threat. As a roughly 75-lawyer firm, we cannot chase every opportunity. We must remain focused and chose carefully.

Growth also presents a challenge to our firm culture, which has been a cornerstone for our success. As Phillips Murrah added, and then added to, a second office, we have worked diligently to include Oklahoma lawyers on teams serving Texas-based clients and vice versa. Since opening in Dallas, half of our Oklahoma lawyers have worked on relationships managed by a Texas lawyer while everyone in our Dallas office has worked on a relationship managed from our Oklahoma City headquarters. Fortunately, Oklahoma City is as close to Dallas as Austin and much closer than Houston.

The full article is exclusive to Law.com subscribers. Click here to view the full article.

Firm selects Employee of the Month for September 2019

Rachel Schones

Rachel Schones, Receptionist, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for September 2019.

“It is a great honor to be selected as Employee of the Month by my co-workers,” she said.

The Employee of the Month is selected anonymously by Phillips Murrah staff on merits of teamwork and overall contributions to the Firm.

“Rachel has blossomed into such a poised young woman since she began with our Firm,” said Michelle Munda, Executive Director at Phillips Murrah. “All our employees as well as our clients love her and she handles that front desk with grace and charm.

“At times, that can be quite challenging. Thank you Rachel!”

The Firm recently began making a donation to the winner’s charity of choice, and Rachel chose The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

To learn more about The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, click here.


Phillips Murrah has been recognized as an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/Energage four years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence.

 

Hendrick partners with North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Janet Hendrick

Janet Hendrick is an experienced employment litigator who tackles each of her client’s problems with a tailored, results-oriented approach.

Director Janet A. Hendrick joins the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce, supporting the organization for 2019-2020 as a Bronze Partner and taking on a hands-on role.

“I met the President of the Chamber, Tony Vedda, at the Dallas Business Equality Conference a few years ago, where I was asked to speak about evolving rights for LGBT employees in the U.S.,” she said. “We stayed in touch and he later asked me to be a member of the Chamber’s Governance Committee, the role of which is to assist in selection of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

“I spoke again this year at the Business Equality Conference, which is sponsored by progressive Dallas-based companies like Toyota, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.”

Janet is an experienced employment litigator who regularly appears in state and federal court to defend employers of all sizes against discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and related claims. She is a frequent speaker and author on topics including gender diversity in the legal profession, workplace accommodations and leave management, evolving workplace protections of LGBT employees, and the rapidly expanding gig economy.

The North Texas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Chamber of Commerce has been the premier business organization for the LGBT community in north Texas since 2005, working to improve the region’s economic vitality and support the positive attributes of a diverse workplace, supply chain and community.

To learn more about the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce and its mission, click here.

Kelly selected to join Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Leadership Class

Kim Kelly Web

Kim Kelly is a civil litigator who represents individuals and corporations in both federal and state courts.

The Dallas Association of Young Lawyers has selected Phillips Murrah attorney Kim Beight Kelly to join the association’s exclusive Leadership Class for 2019.

Each year, the DAYL selects approximately 40 young lawyers of all practice areas, firm sizes and levels of experience to participate in the DAYL Leadership Class. The Leadership Program was created in 1997 as a way to reach out to young lawyers who wanted to make a difference in their community and the bar.

“I wanted to get involved with the Leadership Class because I want to learn how I can better serve my community,” she said. “My family and I benefit a great deal from the efforts of community leaders, and participation in this group will be an amazing opportunity to meet some of those leaders and learn how to follow their example.

“I look forward to getting to know other young lawyers who also want to get out there and take a more active role in making Dallas the amazing city that it is.”

The DAYL Leadership Class provides opportunities for young lawyers of all backgrounds to develop relationships with local city leaders and network with one another. With over 800 alumni, including judges, general counsels, law school professors, city leaders, and law firm-named partners, the Leadership Class has been emulated by bar associations across the state and the country and serves as a gateway for leadership among lawyers in the North Texas area.

Kim is a civil litigator who represents individuals and corporations in both federal and state courts who works in the Firm’s Dallas office.

To learn more about the Leadership Class, visit the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers website here.

Hendrick to give keynote presentation at Texas Business Equality Conference

Janet Hendrick

Janet Hendrick is an experienced employment litigator who tackles each of her client’s problems with a tailored, results-oriented approach.

Janet A. Hendrick, Director and member in the Firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, will provide an update on legal developments in LGBTQ workplace protections on June 11 at the 4th Annual Texas Business Equality Conference hosted by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Her presentation will highlight current state and federal legislation, upcoming Supreme Court cases, and best practices for maintaining compliance and educating employers on navigating areas where potential workplace could arise.

Attendees will network with other business professionals from around the state, hear remarks from national speakers about the importance of diversity in the workplace, and attend breakout sessions designed to help businesses to grow and thrive.

Janet is an experienced employment litigator who tackles each of her client’s problems with a tailored, results-oriented approach. Whether training managers on employment law compliance to minimize an employer’s legal risk or representing the employer in court or arbitration, she brings years of experience and in-depth legal knowledge to deliver results.

For more information about the conference, visit the North Texas GLBT Chamber’s website here.

Kim Beight Kelly joins Phillips Murrah Dallas office

Kim Kelly Web

Kim B. Kelly

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 13, 2019) – Phillips Murrah P.C. is pleased to announce that Kim Beight Kelly has joined the Firm in its Dallas-based office as an Associate attorney. Kim is a civil litigator who represents individuals and corporations in both federal and state courts. She brings the number of Phillips Murrah attorneys serving the Texas market to fourteen.

Kim is a goal-oriented litigator who advocates for clients through every stage of litigation, from pre-suit negotiations through final resolution. Kim works closely with clients to identify strategic objectives and manage risk at each critical juncture over the life of a lawsuit. She is experienced in defending clients of all sizes in both state and federal courts.

Kim has experience defending major corporations, insurance companies, and small businesses in a wide variety of cases, including product liability, insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, dealership liability, personal injury and wrongful death, and business contract disputes.

Kim is a member of the Texas Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association, and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.

Prior to joining Phillips Murrah, Kim practiced at a law firm in Dallas.


CONTACT:

Phillips Murrah – Dallas Office:
3710 Rawlins Street, Suite 1420
Dallas, Texas 75219

Main: (214) 238-2525
Fax: (214) 434-1370

 

Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: What Employers Should Know

Disability is the most common and well-known basis for workplace accommodation. Although less common, requests for religious accommodations for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices, required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are on the rise. Here is an overview of what employers should know about religious accommodations in the workplace.

Janet Hendrick Profile portrait
Janet A. Hendrick

Under Title VII, “religion” is not limited to traditional, organized religions. Sincerely held religious beliefs are also included, even if not part of a formal church or sect, and even if held by a small number of people. One court found that a belief system known as Onionhead, the motto of which is “peel it-feel it-heal it,” is a religion, looking to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition, which includes “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong.” In contrast, another court ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, members of which are known as Pastafarians, is not.

Upon request or notice, an employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee and accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs or practices unless it would pose an undue hardship on the employer. The burden is on the employee to prove notice was provided to the employer. Mere knowledge by the employer does not generally trigger a religious accommodation obligation.

To establish an undue hardship, an employer must provide specific and credible evidence of the expense or hardship the exception would cause. Hypothetical hardships without support will not suffice. A “slippery slope” argument – that accommodating one employee will encourage others to request a policy exception – rarely succeeds.

Although it is an easier standard to meet than the undue hardship exception to a disability accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no bright-line rule and each case will be different. Examples of burdens that are more than minimal are jeopardizing safety or health, more than a minimal cost, and violating a seniority system.

The two most common religious accommodations in the workplace are schedule changes and exceptions to dress and grooming codes. Examples are an employee who is unable to work Saturdays because his religion prohibits working on his Sabbath, a female Muslim employee whose religion requires her to wear a hijab, or a male employee who is prohibited by his religion from shaving his beard.

Janet A. Hendrick is an employment attorney who works in Phillips Murrah’s Dallas office.


By Phillips Murrah Director Janet A. Hendrick

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on December 13, 2018.

Lawyers know everything – almost: Digital Marketing for Law Firms

What is brand affinity? What is SEO? Many law firms admittedly don’t know much digital marketing jargon. Historically speaking, marketing is a relatively new addition to the legal industry. Only 41 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized lawyers’ right to advertise.

Dave Rhea

Dave Rhea is the Marketing Director for Phillips Murrah law firm.

From what I understand – as a non-attorney working in a large law firm – law schools don’t offer many, if any, classes about digital marketing methods. Thus, these activities can seem as impractical to lawyers as dancing does to steelworkers.

However, in today’s digital landscape, it’s reasonable for attorneys to consider adopting a marketing mindset. Technology, coupled with the growing inclination of law firms to onboard marketing professionals, allows attorneys to easily demonstrate their expertise to a much wider audience while sacrificing fewer billable hours.

What can attorneys do to develop more business in the digital age? There are numerous ways to leverage new media to effectively enhance one’s visibility and reputation in the community, but for this column I would like to concentrate on one such activity, in particular.

The biggest bang for the non-billable hour is thought-leadership authorship. Writing short-form articles on a consistent basis for publication on the firm’s website, or blogging, is an easy way to position oneself as an industry leader. Such articles can have a long shelf life and are versatile in how they can be disseminated. This activity also allows for exposure outside of the law firm’s usual circles of influence while building a body of work that increases their digital marketing footprint, which allows the attorney-authors and their firms to be found more easily on Internet search engines.

Savvy, marketing-minded author-lawyers can also use such articles to heighten awareness and demonstrate excellent customer service to their clients and prospects. Using direct outreach via one-to-one email, these attorneys can show proactive attention and demonstrate knowledge of the targets’ industries, thereby harnessing a proven way to nurture relationships and win new business.

Old-school rainmakers with existing books of business and established reputations may not view blogging as a beneficial use of their time. However, many of these key influencers still understand the benefit of developing a marketing-mindset culture within their firms and go the extra mile to promote buy-in from junior partners and associates.


By Phillips Murrah Marketing Director Dave Rhea

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on October 25, 2018.

Dave Rhea is marketing director at the law firm of Phillips Murrah in Oklahoma City.