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Baker Botts Unanimously Wins Statutory Construction Appeal in Texas Supreme Court

AUSTIN - March 2, 2017 - Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, announced the Texas Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion February 24, 2017, in favor of firm client Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (TAMFT) in a decade-long dispute with the Texas Medical Association (TMA) regarding the authority of marriage and family therapists (MFTs) to diagnose mental diseases. 

“This is a great win for our client, and a greater win for therapists and patients,” said Baker Botts litigation partner Gavin R. Villareal, who argued the case in the Texas Supreme Court. “The decision addresses fundamental questions of statutory construction, and will be relevant to many other statutory construction cases for years to come.” 

The Baker Botts team, along with the Texas Attorney General’s office, filed a petition for review in the Texas Supreme Court following a 2-1 loss in the Third Court of Appeals. TAMFT, an organization of about 1,700 Texas marriage and family therapists, had intervened at the trial court level to defend the challenged rule. TAMFT argued that the court of appeals decision, left uncorrected, threatened the ability of marriage and family therapists to provide mental-health care services in Texas. 

After requesting full briefing, the Texas Supreme Court initially denied the petition for review. TAMFT and the Attorney General’s office, who represented the MFT Board, jointly moved for reconsideration of that denial, with support from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. The Court reversed its rejection and decided to hear the case on the merits. 

“It’s rare for the Court to grant a motion for reconsideration of the denial of a petition,” said Villareal. “So it was remarkable that, after initially denying to hear the appeal, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously sided with our client TAMFT and the State and rendered judgment that the challenged rule is valid.” 

“This is quite possibly one of the most important outcomes in AAMFT’s history and certainly for the profession of marriage and family therapy,” said Tracy Todd, CEO of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, of which TAMFT is a member. 

The Baker Botts team that represented TAMFT in the Texas Supreme Court included partners Gavin R. Villareal and Thomas R. Phillips, and special counsel David Arlington, all from Austin.


Baker Botts is an international law firm of approximately 700 lawyers practicing throughout a network of 13 offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology, and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit


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