Thomas R. Phillips



P: +1.512.322.2565 F: +1.512.322.8363
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"brings a unique and valuable perspective to every case"

"has an absolutely exceptional legal mind and does incredibly well at narrowing the issues to the most important core issues"

Chambers USA, 2019

Thomas R. Phillips, retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, joined the Austin office of Baker Botts in September 2005, after nearly a quarter-century of judicial service.

After serving as law clerk to Justice Ruel C. Walker of the Supreme Court of Texas, Mr. Phillips practiced law in the trial department of the Houston office of Baker Botts before his appointment as judge of the 280th District Court in Harris County, Texas. From 1988 to 2004, he was Chief Justice, winning four statewide elections after his initial appointment in that office.

Board Certification

  • Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1981 to present

Neutral Panel Membership

  • CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals, Texas Arbitration Panel, 2005 to present

Academic Appointments

  • Spurgeon E. Bell Distinguished Visiting Professor at South Texas College of Law, Houston, 2004-2005 (Supreme Court Seminar, First Amendment, and State Constitutional Law)
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Fall 2004 (Supreme Court Seminar)
  • Visiting Lecturer, South Texas College of Law Summer Abroad Program, Durham, England, Summer 2003 (ADR, Recent Constitutional Issues)
  • Visiting Lecturer, South Texas College of Law Summer Abroad Program, Istanbul, Summer 2001 (Comparative Evidence)

International Judicial Exchanges

  • Visit of Members of the European Court of Justice to the Supreme Court of Texas, Austin and Dallas, April 20-23, 2000, Host
  • Visit of Members of the Supreme Court of the United States to European Courts and Institutions, July 5-15, 1998, Delegation Member
  • Visit of Justices of the Supreme Court of Texas to the Supreme Court of Veracruz, July 7-10, 1993, Delegation Leader

Related Experience

Since returning to private practice, he has represented scores of clients in appeals to state and federal appellate courts on a wide variety of commercial, personal injury, regulatory and constitutional issues. Among the cases he has successfully argued on appeal are:

  • Pinto Technology Ventures, L.P. v. Sheldon, 2017 WL 2200357 (Tex. May 19, 2017)
  • Dacus v. Parker, 466 S.W.3d 820 (Tex. 2015)
  • Klumb v. Houston Municipal Employees Pension Systems, 458 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. 2015)
  • Union Carbide Corp. v. Synatszke, 438 S.W.3d 39 (Tex. 2014)
  • State of Texas v. Public Utility Commission, 344 S.W.3d 349 (Tex. 2011)
  • BP America, Inc. v. Marshall, 342 S.W.3d 59 (Tex. 2011)
  • TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Co. v. Combs, 340 S.W.3d 432 (Tex. 2011)
  • Gonzalez v. Guilbot, 315 S.W.3d 533 (Tex. 2010)
  • Houston Municipal Employees Pension System v. Ferrell, 248 S.W.3d 151 (Tex. 2007)
  • Huff Energy Fund, L.P. v. Longview Energy Co., 482 S.W.3d 187 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2015), aff’d, 533 S.W.3d 866 (Tex. 2017)
  • Guillory v. Seaton LLC, 470 S.W.3d 237 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, pet. denied)
  • ConocoPhillips v. Noble Energy, 462 S.W.3d 255 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2015), aff’d, 532 S.W.3d 771 (Tex. 2017)
  • XTO Energy, Inc. v. Smith Production, Inc., 282 S.W.3d 672 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, pet. granted, cause dism’d)

Other cases in which he has represented a successful appellate party include:

  • EXLP Leasing LLC v. Galveston County Central Appraisal District, 2018 WL 1122363 (Tex. Mar. 2, 2018)
  • Ex parte James Richard “Rick” Perry, 483 S.W.3d 884 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016)
  • Texas State Bd. of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists v. Texas Medical Ass'n, 511 S.W.3d 28 (Tex. 2017)
  • Ochsner v. Ochsner, 517 S.W.3d 717 (Tex. 2016)
  • In re Longview Energy Co., 464 S.W.3d 353 (Tex. 2015)
  • Texas Student Housing Authority v. Brazos County Appraisal District, 460 S.W.3d 137 (Tex. 2015)
  • Waste Management of Texas, Inc. v. Texas Disposal Systems Landfill, Inc., 434 S.W.3d 142 (Tex. 2014)
  • Paradigm Oil, Inc. v. Retamco Operating Co., 372 S.W.3d 177 (Tex. 2012)
  • Enbridge Pipeline (East Texas) L.P. v. Avinger Timber LLC, 386 S.W.3d 256 (Tex. 2012)
  • Hemyari v. Stephens, 355 S.W.3d 623 (Tex. 2011) (per curiam)
  • Basic Capital Management v. Dynex Commercial, Inc., 348 S.W.3d 894 (Tex. 2011)
  • Merck & Co., Inc. v. Garza, 347 S.W.3d 256 (Tex. 2011)
  • Grohman v. Kahlig, 318 S.W.3d 882 (Tex. 2010) (per curiam)
  • Grant Thornton LLP v. Prospect High Income Fund, 314 S.W.3d 913 (Tex. 2010)
  • In re United Services Automobile Association, 307 S.W.3d 299 (Tex. 2010) (orig. proceeding)
  • In re Southwestern Bell Tele. Co. L.P., 235 S.W.3d 619 (Tex. 2007) (orig. proceeding)
  • In re Castillo, 201 S.W.3d 682 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam) (orig. proceeding)
  • Hoover Slovacek LLP v. Walton, 206 S.W.3d 557 (Tex. 2006) (on rehr’g)
  • Chicas v. Texas Mutual Ins. Co., 522 S.W.3d 67 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, pet. granted)
  • Tractor Supply Co. of Texas, L.P. v. McGowan, 2016 WL 1722873 (Tex. App.–Waco Apr. 28, 2016, pet. denied)
  • Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC v. Carduco, Inc., 2016 WL 1274535 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi Mar. 31, 2016, pet. granted) (mem. op.)
  • City of Houston v. Houston Municipal Employee Pension System, 513 S.W.3d 114 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2016), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 549 S.W.3d 566 (Tex. 2018)
  • City of Houston v. Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund, 502 S.W.3d 469 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.)
  • Associated Air Center LP v. Tary Network Ltd., 2015 WL 970664 (Tex. App.–Dallas March 4, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.)
  • Teladoc, Inc. v. Texas Medical Board, 453 S.W.3d 606 (Tex. App.–Austin 2014, pet. denied)
  • In re Choudhri, 2014 WL 2854875 Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] June 3, 2014) (orig. proceeding)
  • In re Sugarland Anesthesia PLLC, 2013 WL 6569026 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 12, 2013) (orig. proceeding)
  • Hendrick Medical Center v. Tex. Podiatric Medical Assn., 392 S.W.3d 294 (Tex. App.–Eastland 2012, no pet.)
  • 2055 Inc. and Coates v. McTague, Sprigg & Bus. Incentives, Inc., 2009 WL 2506342 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2009, no pet.)
  • Casserlie v. Shell Oil Co., 902 N.E.2d 1 (Ohio 2009)
  • CenterPoint Energy, Inc. v. Miller County Circuit Court, 276 S.W.3d 231 (Ark. 2008)
  • Sherwin-Williams Co. v. State, 951 A.2d 428 (R.I. 2008)

Finally, he has successfully represented Amici in several important cases, including:

  • Conference of Chief Justices in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868 (2009), ODonnell v. Harris County, Texas, 882 F.3d 528 (5th Cir. 2018), and Kansas Judicial Watch v. Stout, 562 F.3d 1240 (10th Cir. 2009)
  • Texas Association of Business in Texas Commission on Environmental Quality v. Bosque River Coalition, 413 S.W.3d 403 (Tex. 2013), and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality v. City of Waco, 413 S.W.3d 409 (Tex. 2013)
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ruttiger, 381 S.W.3d 430 (Tex. 2012)
  • Texas Association of Realtors in Wind Mountain Ranch LLC v. City of Temple, 333 S.W.3d 580 (Tex. 2010)
  • Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC in ExxonMobil Corp. v. Gill, 299 S.W.3d 124 (Tex. 2009)
  • NextEra Energy Resources, LLC in Public Utility Comm'n v. City of Harlingen, 311 S.W.3d 610 (Tex. App.–Austin 2010, no pet.)

Awards & Community

Professional Honors & Awards

  • Honorary D.H.L., St. Edward’s University, 1998
  • Honorary LL.D., Texas Tech University, 1997
  • Listed in Chambers USA, 2006-2019 and The Best Lawyers in America, 2007-2019
  • The Texas Lawbook, “Lions of the Texas Bar,” 2015
  • Lone Star Legal Aid Hall of Heroes, 2014
  • Pro Texana Meritorious Achievement Award, Baylor University, 2013
  • Outstanding Mentor Award, Texas Young Lawyers Association, 2009-2010
  • Outstanding Mentor Award, Austin Young Lawyers Association, 2009-2010
  • Justice Award, American Judicature Society, 2007
  • Award for Outstanding Judicial Service and Leadership, Houston Bar Association, Appellate Practice Section, 2007
  • Baylor Alumni 150 (“150 of Baylor’s most remarkable alumni”), Baylor Alumni Association, 2007
  • Justinian Award, Dallas Lawyers Auxiliary, 2006
  • Harry L. Carrico Judicial Innovation Award, National Center for State Courts, 2005
  • Champion of Children Award, Dallas CASA, 2004
  • Harold F. Kleinman Award, Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, 2004
  • First Annual Professionalism in Law Award, The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement, 2004
  • Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award, Baylor University Alumni Association, 2004
  • Rosewood Gavel Award, St. Mary’s School of Law, 2002
  • Texas Legal Legends: The 102 Most Influential Texas Lawyers of the 20th Century, 2000
  • Honorary Order of the Coif, University of Houston Law Center, 2002
  • Distinguished Service Award, National Center for State Courts, 1999
  • Distinguished Alumnus, Baylor University Alumni Association, 1998
  • Appellate Judge of the Year, Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists, 1992-1993
  • Award of Excellence in Government, Texas Chamber of Commerce, 1992
  • Hall of Fame, Woodrow Wilson High School, 1989
  • Outstanding Texas Leader Award, John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Forum, 1989
  • Outstanding Young Lawyer of Houston Award, Houston Young Lawyers Association, 1986

Professional Activities

Professional  Affiliations:

American Law Institute, 1990 to present - Federal Judicial Code Revision Project, 1995-2004; Principles of Election Law, 2010 to present

International Association of Defense Counsel, 2017 to present

American Bar Association - Commission on the 21st Century Judiciary, 2002-2003; Judicial Selection and Judicial Campaign Committee, 2001-2003; Task Force on Lawyers’ Political Contributions, 1997-1998

State Bar of Texas - Committee on Pattern Jury Charges, Chair (Vol. IV), 1985-1988; Committee on Administration of Justice, Vice Chair, 1986-1988; Committee on Administration of Rules of Evidence, 1983-1988; Committee on Judicial Selection, Tenure, and Compensation, 1981-1984

Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow, 2014 to present

Dwight D. Opperman Institute of Judicial Administration, New York University Law School, Board of Directors, 2006 to present

The Center for American and International Law, Trustee, 1992-2014

South Texas College of Law, Board of Directors, 2006-2011

Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary, Corporate Task Force, 2008-2009

Texas Judicial Districts Board, Chair, 1988-2004

Texas Judicial Council, Chair, 1997-2004

American Judicature Society - Director, 1989-1995 and 1999-2005; National Advisory Board, 2005-2014

Citizens’ Commission on the Texas Judiciary, Convener, 1991-1993

Institutions of Democracy Judicial Branch Commission, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2003-2004

Community Service:

Texas Appleseed, Board of Directors, 2015 to present

Bipartisan Texas Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, 2013 to present

Texas State Historical Association, Director, 2014 to present

Texas Historical Commission, Member, 2005-2012

NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, Public Member, 1990 to present

The Philosophical Society of Texas, Member, 1990 to present

Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, Member, 2005

Bastrop County Historical Society, Board of Directors, 2004-2008

Baylor University Presidential Search Advisory Committee, Member, 2009-2010

Baylor Alumni Association Council, Member, 2007-2012

Mitt Romney Justice Advisory Committee, Member, 2011-2012

John McCain Justice Advisory Committee, Member, 2008

Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts, Member, 2008