They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I have never been satisfied with the status quo. I am simply hard-wired to challenge conventional wisdom. Because of this, I have told several managing partners at major law firms that I was leaving to pursue more fulfilling professional interests. Each time I was told that I was making a big mistake – including when I left to start Cobb & Counsel.
It has been said that a litigation boutique taking on “biglaw” is like a kid with a lemonade stand challenging Wal-Mart. But passion, commitment, knowing what your customers want, and delivering it when they need it, always gives the nimble and eager competitor an advantage – whether the competitor is a lemonade stand or a litigation boutique.
Some people are comfortable doing things the way they have always been done. Some are always looking to build a better mousetrap. I am not easily satisfied, and always think that things can be done better. So I founded Cobb & Counsel to deliver the highest quality legal services, while always providing value.
I started my legal career as a Judicial Clerk at the Texas Supreme Court, where I learned to view the law from the perspective of the Court. Afterwards, I became an associate with Vinson & Elkins, where I was taught to turn over every stone, and run down every rabbit trail. As an associate, I started moonlighting one night a week, teaching a class in Business Negotiations, my favorite (and best) law school class, at a local Business School.
Then a recruiter called with an in-house position for “someone who still wants to litigate.” Making my first “mistake,” I made the leap to corporate counsel. Of course, this was hardly a mistake. Practicing law from “the client’s” perspective changed my outlook forever.
After working for several years as Senior Regulatory Counsel for a broadband internet access provider, I foresaw the demise of my employer’s business model and took refuge at a large law firm once again. My return was rewarding, at least financially – it allowed me to pay off my student loans, build my daughter’s college fund, and save enough to leave once more, to satisfy a longing to perform government service.
My second “mistake” was leaving the partner ranks of Jackson Walker when Attorney General Greg Abbott asked me to come “try big cases” for the State of Texas. He wasn’t kidding. I was lead trial counsel for the State of Texas in the historic 26-state constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a ObamaCare), and in a dozen cases challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules and protecting Texas’s air permitting program.
I also directed the trial teams that obtained the largest verdict in Travis County history (over $180 million), and the largest Civil Medicaid Fraud settlement in state history (over $160 million), and personally negotiated a record-breaking $50 million settlement for violations of the Texas Clean Air Act.
I was later appointed Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation and charged with managing over 300 lawyers in 10 litigation divisions, while directly supervising over 150 attorneys in the Attorney General’s five “enforcement” divisions — the Civil Medicaid Fraud, Consumer Protection, Antitrust, Bankruptcy & Collections, and Environmental Protection & Administrative Law Divisions. Trying enormous and important cases, and learning firsthand how the wheels of justice turn within Texas government, was hardly a mistake. But the financial sacrifice ultimately took its toll, and the comfort of a large familiar law firm beckoned once again.
And yet, before long, I realized that the legal industry was changing, and that a different platform – the litigation boutique – allowed for greater focus on client needs, the ability to offer alternative fee arrangements, and greater rate flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a tremendous amount practicing law at large firms, which admittedly do many things that boutiques cannot. But seeing as how my earlier “mistakes” provided me with additional perspective and improved judgment, I am confident that trying to build a better law firm and deliver a better product is likewise the right choice.
You can hire biglaw for your business and regulatory litigation needs, and no one will second-guess you. Or, if you are like me, and you think you can do better – you can hire Cobb & Counsel.