Attorney Intel is pleased to announce The Top 50 Attorneys of San Antonio for 2022. As the 7th largest city in the United States, San Antonio has experienced steady growth in major areas including aerospace, IT and cybersecurity, healthcare, and green technologies. This year’s awardees provide legal counsel for individuals and large corporations within the city limits. Their industry knowledge, legal expertise, and sound judgment are highly sought after.
Among this year’s awardees is Christopher Cain, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for iHeartMedia, who manages a team of attorneys and provides legal advice to company executives and business units, overseeing all transactional and regulatory matters. Awardee Ed Koellner, Senior Attorney of Payments and Fintech for USAA Federal Savings Bank, is known for being an accomplished corporate intellectual property leader in the development of IP management, licensing, patent, trademarks, and copyrights. Also awarded is Christina Markell-Balleza, Managing Director and General Counsel for CAPTRUST, who has vast experience in representing investment advisors with respect to organizational matters, registration, securities and regulatory issues, compliance, fund formation, and investor negotiations.
These individuals provide expert advice and are in great demand in their respective fields. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Attorneys of San Antonio for 2022.
1. Brenna Nava
VP & Deputy General Counsel, Rackspace Technology
Brenna Nava is the Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Rackspace Technology, a multi cloud solutions expert. The firm provides software solutions that support and manage cloud platforms, as well as offers managed hosting, colocation, security, data processing, and enterprise application development. Nava has over 15 years of legal experience, including 10 years as a corporate lawyer. She is a corporate generalist with significant hands-on and management experience in many aspects of a global legal function including employment and benefits matters, litigation, commercial transactions, M&A, privacy, security, compliance, and ethics. Nava began her career in 2007.
Before joining Rackspace Technology, Nava was an associate attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP. She graduated from St. Mary's University School of Law with a JD and from West Texas A&M University with an undergraduate degree in fine arts.
2. Christopher Cain
SVP & Associate General Counsel, iHeartMedia
Christopher Cain began his professional career 27 years ago. Today, he is a Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for iHeartMedia. With over a quarter of a billion monthly listeners in the U.S. and over 129 million social followers, iHeartMedia has the largest national reach of any radio or television outlet in America. As the leader in multiplatform connections, it also serves over 150 local markets through 858 owned radio stations. Gain provides legal advice to company executives and business units, overseeing all transactional and regulatory matters, and managing a team of attorneys in support of this division.
Cain has diverse general counseling experience including traditional and digital media, acquisitions/divestitures, compliance, and other transactional matters. He first got his start in 1995 as an associate attorney at Sessions & Sessions. Cain graduated from the University of Houston Law Center with a JD and from The University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree.
3. Kipling Giles
VP & Deputy General Counsel, CPS Energy
Kipling Giles began his professional career 19 years ago. Today, he is a Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned natural gas and electric company. It provides safe and affordable service to 821,000 electric and 347,000 natural gas customers in the Greater San Antonio area. Giles works extensively on litigation-related work including open records, subpoenas, discovery, and claims resolution.
Prior to joining CPS Energy, Giles was an associate at Strasburger & Price (now Clark Hill), where he worked broadly on general litigation matters. He earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University and an undergraduate degree from Angelo State University.
4. Ryan Sullivan
Trial Attorney, DLA Piper
Ryan Sullivan is a Trial Attorney for DLA Piper, a multinational law firm with offices in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He is an experienced litigator who has second-chaired trials in state and federal court. Sullivan joined DLA Piper in 2021 from the San Antonio office of a national firm.
Sullivan has a track record of obtaining a directed verdict for a client at trial in a tortious interference action. In a breach-of-contract action, he has successfully argued for death-penalty sanctions, resulting in default judgment in favor of his client and in a shareholder derivative suit, obtained dismissal of all claims against his client and an award of attorneys' fees and sanctions. Prior to practicing law, Sullivan earned a master's degree in urban planning and served as a presidential management fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. Sullivan is a 2014 graduate of the George Washington University School of Law.
View the complete list of awardees.
5. Lindsay Leifeste
Attorney, Old Republic Title
Lindsay Leifeste began her professional career 13 years ago. Today, she is an Attorney for Old Republic Title, one of America's 50 largest shareholder-owned insurance businesses. It operates through a national network of company-owned offices, affiliates, authorized agents, and approved attorneys, which allows the company to service its customers in both large and small markets across the country. Leifeste is an attorney licensed in TX, AL, and NM, and a commercial escrow officer. She helps provide a smooth closing process for commercial real estate lenders, developers, brokers, and all other interested parties. She has either directly closed or been a part of the closing team for a combined more than $810 million in commercial real estate transactions since mid-2019.
Leifeste’s previous legal experience was in business, complex commercial, and insurance defense litigation, including two jury trials. She first got her start in 2009 as a multimedia news producer at Gannett Company, Inc. From there, she went on to the U.S. Attorney's Office, before eventually rising to become a senior associate attorney at Plunkett, Griesenbeck & Mimari, her most recent position prior to joining Old Republic Title. Leifeste graduated from Mercer University - Walter F. George School of Law with a JD and from Northwestern University with an undergraduate degree in journalism.
8. Ken Gitter
AVP & General Attorney, O'Melveny & Myers
Ken Gitter is an Associate Vice President and General Attorney for O'Melveny & Myers, one of the largest law firms in the world, employing approximately 740 lawyers in offices in California, Washington, D.C., New York City, Beijing, Brussels, Hong Kong, London, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo. Formed in 1885, it played a key role in making Los Angeles and Southern California one of the world’s population and business centers. It has important clients in the entertainment and media industries, including Walt Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Time Inc. It represents corporations in many other fields and government agencies in the United States and abroad. At the beginning of the 21st century, O’Melveny & Myers played an important role in the globalization of the world economy and the major changes occurring due to the Information Age and electronic commerce. Gitter has 36 years of experience. He began his career in 1986.
Before joining O'Melveny & Myers, Gitter was an associate at Shearman & Sterling LLP. He graduated from Rutgers Law School.
10. Erika Robinson
General Counsel, Trinity University
Erika Robinson is the General Counsel of Trinity University, a private university founded in 1869, with a student body consisting of about 2,600 undergraduate and 200 graduate students. SHe is a skillful, thoughtful and collaborative education attorney, who has provided strategic advice and counsel to K-12 school districts, higher educational institutions, and school leaders throughout her career. In addition to her roles with Trinity University, she is an Adjunct Professor for Tulane University Law School instructing two online courses on subjects in the Title IX Certificate and Specialization Program.
Before joining Trinity University, Robinson was a general counsel and Title IX coordinator at Jackson Public Schools, and before that, an associate general counsel in labor and employment at Shelby County Schools. Earlier in her career she worked with SEED Public Charter School of Washington DC as a residential instructor. Robinson graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD, from Ohio University with an MEd, and from Agnes Scott College with an undergraduate degree in political science.
12. Cynthia Grimes
Attorney, Clark Hill
Cynthia Grimes is the Attorney of Clark Hill, a full-service commercial law firm for business legal challenges. It offers its clients an exceptional team, dedicated to the delivery of outstanding service. Grimes is a member of the firm's Healthcare Business Unit group and focuses on commercial disputes and litigation in health law and medical products including credentialing and Medical and Dental Board disputes. She has 46 years of experience. She began her career in 1976.
Grimes has tried 69 jury trials involving complex issues and catastrophic damages including nine brain injury cases. She has been board certified in two areas by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1984, Civil Trial Litigation and Personal Injury Litigation. Before joining Clark Hill, Grimes was an attorney at Groce, Locke & Hebdon. She graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law with a JD and from the University of Houston with an undergraduate degree in political science.
13. Christina Markell-Balleza
Managing Director & General Counsel, CAPTRUST
Christina Markell-Balleza began her professional career 19 years ago. Today, she is a Managing Director and General Counsel for CAPTRUST, one of the largest independent retirement plan and investment advisory firms in the country. It specializes in providing consultative advisory services to retirement plan sponsors, endowments, foundations, institutional investors, executives, and high-net-worth individuals. CAPTRUST’s core values represent the firm’s collective heartbeat and direct how it serves its clients, relates to its colleagues, interacts with its vendors and partners, and addresses its communities.
Markell-Balleza first got her start in 2003 as an associate attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP. From there, she went on to South Texas Money Management as co-CEO, her most recent position prior to joining CAPTRUST. Markell-Balleza graduated from The University of Texas School of Law with a JD and from St. Mary's University with an undergraduate degree in political science.
16. Tara Richardson
Senior Litigation Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
Tara Richardson is a Senior Litigation Attorney of Cordell & Cordell, an international and domestic litigation firm that is frequently cited as the largest men's divorce law firm in the country with more than 150 offices and 300 attorneys in 45 states and two countries. Its divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing high quality service in family law. The Wall Street Journal has described the firm as among the most ambitious of a breed of law firms that has emerged to capitalize on the fathers' rights movement. Richardson has 17 years of experience. She began her career in 2005.
Before joining Cordell & Cordell, Richardson was an attorney at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, and before that, an attorney at Mauzé Law Firm. Earlier in her career she worked with Fulbright & Jaworski as a project manager. Richardson graduated from South Texas College of Law Houston with a JD and from The University of Texas at San Antonio with an undergraduate degree in English.
19. Charla Davies
Attorney, Langley & Banack
Charla Davies began her professional career 20 years ago. Today, she is an Attorney for Langley & Banack. The firm is committed to the efficient representation of clients with national, statewide, and regional interests, including financial institutions, public entities, trusts, corporations, nonprofits and individuals. Davies’s practice is focused on all matters related to family law, including divorce, custody, child support and adoptions.
Davies has extensive experience in high conflict family law matters including, divorce, property division, child custody, child support, and enforcement of court orders. In addition to her trial practice, she also practices Collaborative Family Law. She was honored to serve as the president of the Collaborative Divorce Professionals of San Antonio and served as the chair of the San Antonio Bar Associations' s Family Law Section. She has been elected to the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Bar Association. Davies had the honor of being named a Rising Star in Family Law in Texas Monthly Magazine as well as a Rising Star in Family Law in Scene in SA Magazine. She has also earned the distinction of being on the list of Best Lawyers in San Antonio in Scene in SA Magazine as well as a Top Family Lawyer for 2020. In 2021, Davies was selected for inclusion in the 27th edition of The Best Lawyers in America. She graduated from St. Mary's University School of Law with a JD and from The University of Texas at San Antonio with an undergraduate degree in political science and government.
View the complete list of awardees.
20. Ed Allred
Attorney & Partner, Watts Guerra
Edward Allred is the Attorney and Partner of Watts Guerra. He first joined the firm in 2004. Watts Guerra is a true nationwide litigation practice. Its trial lawyers handle some of the largest cases nationally for catastrophic injury and death, product liability, commercial litigation, and mass torts. Its resources are larger than most firms, enabling the firm to invest tens of millions of dollars at once to battle the largest corporations in the world. Watts Guerra has a proven track record of serious, high-value results, and has beaten the largest and most powerful corporations in America, yielding substantial verdicts and settlements and, more importantly, greater consumer safety for everyone. Allred’s primary practice is within catastrophic personal injury and death litigation, specializing in railroad and roadway collisions.
Prior to joining Watts Guerra, Allred was a litigation counsel with Valero Energy Corporation. He first got his start with Baker & McKenzie as a litigation attorney. Allred earned a JD from St. Mary's University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University.
22. Craig Wood
Attorney, Walsh Anderson Brown Schulze & Aldridge
Craig Wood began his professional career 33 years ago. Today, he is an Attorney with Walsh Anderson Brown Schulze & Aldridge, a law firm representing the interests of schools in Texas and New Mexico. It has six offices and serves hundreds of school districts, charter school and private school clients. The firm has been providing reliable and effective representation to school districts and other governmental entities since 1983. Its experienced team of attorneys serve as fierce advocates in the areas of employment, special education, constitutional law, civil rights, construction and business. They are innovators in client service and pride themselves on practical, straightforward counsel on matters involving personnel, student issues, facilities & business, special education and litigation.
Wood first got his start in 1989 as an attorney at Langley & Banack. He graduated from The University of Texas School of Law with a JD and from Oklahoma State University with an undergraduate degree in political science.
24. Monica Trollinger
General Counsel, Southwest Research Institute
Monica Trollinger is the General Counsel of Southwest Research Institute. Southwest Research Institute is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization. Its multidisciplinary nature allows it to rapidly assemble diverse teams to tackle problems from multiple directions. SwRI pushes the boundaries of science and technology to develop innovative solutions that advance the state of the art and improve human health and safety. Operating as a nonprofit since its 1947 inception, the company works in the public’s best interest and toward the betterment of humanity.
Trollinger joined SwRI in 1996 as a deputy general counsel where she supported and advised staff on all regulatory, compliance and contractional matters. She was later promoted to chief compliance officer where she was responsible for the oversight, assessment, administration, and improvement of SwRI’s Compliance Program and Standards of Conduct. Trollinger earned a JD from St. Mary's University School of Law, and an MBA from Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
27. Anthony Brown
VP & General Counsel, Resolve To Save Lives
Anthony Brown is a Vice President and General Counsel at Resolve To Save Lives. He first joined the company in 2021 as vice president of legal. Resolve to Save Lives helps governments and civil society implement scalable, proven strategies to prevent millions of deaths from cardiovascular disease and epidemics. It focuses on accelerating action in low- and middle-income countries through speed, simplicity, and scale. In its first four years, Resolve has worked with countries to help protect millions of people from exposure to artificial transfat. It has partnered with countries that are treating more than 2 million patients for high blood pressure and has supported more than 20 countries in Africa to improve epidemic preparedness and response. Resolve To Save Lives aims to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease and to prevent epidemics.
Previously, Brown was a senior legal counsel at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. He earned a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, an MBA from The Wharton School, and an undergraduate degree in Latin American studies from Columbia University in the City of New York.
28. Michael Boyd
General Counsel, USAA Real Estate
Michael Boyd is a General Counsel for USAA Real Estate. With approximately $29 billion in assets under management and 11 global offices, USAA Real Estate is an industry leader in acquiring, developing, financing and managing the highest quality real estate assets in North America and Europe. Its mission is to serve the financial interests of its investor clients by strengthening the profitability and diversity of the USAA investment portfolio, which includes multifamily, industrial, office and hotel properties, as well as e-commerce logistics and distribution centers, media production facilities and data centers. Aligned with a series of strategic partnerships cultivated over decades of co-investment, USAA Real Estate engages with preeminent sector leaders demonstrating proven domain expertise in a shared drive to achieve superior, risk-adjusted returns. Boyd has 34 years of experience. He began his career in 1988.
Before joining USAA Real Estate, Boyd was a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth. He graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law with a JD and from The University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
31. Adam Boland
Attorney, Strasburger & Price
Adam Boland began his professional career 16 years ago. Today, he is the Attorney of Strasburger & Price, a Dallas, Texas-based law firm catering to the needs of start-ups, medium-sized and Fortune 500 companies, particularly those based in Texas. Boland works out of the San Antonio office. He is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Labor and Employment Law. He represents large and small companies as a strategic business partner with all types of labor and employment issues. Boland provides extensive counseling and training to his clients regarding any employment related issue. He also represents companies before state and federal agencies and defends employers in lawsuits brought in state and federal courts across Texas, involving claims of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower violations, leave violations, and wage and hour claims.
Boland regularly provides presentations and training regarding compliance with Title VII, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other state and federal statutes. He first got his start in 2006 as an attorney at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. Boland graduated from St. Mary's University School of Law with a JD and from McMurry University with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
33. Chris Laia
General Counsel, Bestow
Chris Laia is a General Counsel for Bestow. He first joined the company in 2018. Bestow is the leading digital platform for life insurance. As both a direct-to-consumer destination and an infrastructure provider, Bestow powers instant life insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes, across any channel. The company's platform leverages a proprietary algorithmic underwriting engine to instantly determine risk and give consumers immediate access to comprehensive life insurance services, without working with an agent, lengthy applications, or medical exams, enabling customers to access insurance products that are affordable and available instantly with no medical exam. In a world full of unknowns, Bestow is on a mission to make life insurance accessible to millions of underserved families by creating the best possible products and experiences that serve future generations.
Previously, Laia was a general counsel at RedCrow Equity Crowdfunding, and before that, a deputy general counsel at USAA. Earlier in his career he worked with Lord Day & Lord as an associate. Laia earned a JD from Willamette University College of Law, an LLM from Tulane University Law School, and an undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University.
View the complete list of awardees.
37. Vicky Sullivan
Senior Staff Attorney, Texas Appleseed
Dr. Vicky L. Sullivan is a Senior Staff Attorney at Texas Appleseed, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote social, economic, and racial justice. Appleseed, a network of 16 justice centers across the United States and Mexico, unites research, organizing, policy advocacy, and impact litigation to build systemic solutions for under-resourced, directly impacted communities. Texas Appleseed is located in Austin, Texas and concentrates on education justice, criminal justice, fair financial services, disaster recovery, fair housing, juvenile justice, homeless youth, and foster care. Dr. Sullivan first joined Texas Appleseed in 2020 as a Legal Intern and returned in 2021 as a Senior Staff Attorney. She practices in Public Interest Law, Civil Rights Law, and Education/School Law through direct representation, movement lawyering, and legal & policy advocacy. Prior to pivoting to a second career in law, Dr. Sullivan worked in public school education for 26 years, where she provided leadership in numerous supervisory roles. She spent the last decade of her tenure as director of the department deemed an internal legal hub where school district staff sought counsel on a variety of student legal issues.
Previously, Dr. Sullivan practiced Criminal Defense and Family Law with Zarka Law Firm. From there, Dr. Sullivan continued active private practice as a freelance Criminal Appellate Attorney at Angela Moore & Associates. Dr. Sullivan earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) from St. Mary’s University School of Law and a Doctor of Education (EdD) from The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, she earned an undergraduate degree double majoring in physics and mathematics from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from The University of Texas at San Antonio.
39. Edward Rizzuti
EVP, General Counsel & Secretary, Alamo Group
Edward Rizzuti is an Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary for the Alamo Group, a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality agricultural equipment for farms and ranches and infrastructure maintenance equipment for governmental and industrial markets. The firm was founded in 1969, though some of its member companies have been in business over 100 years. Rizzuti has serve as the chief legal officer for the publicly traded industrial and agricultural equipment manufacturing company. He hs a trusted advisor to the CEO, senior management team and other business leaders across the company. His responsibilities include directing the legal affairs in the areas of corporate governance, M&A, SEC reporting, dispute resolution/litigation, corporate compliance, employment and intellectual property matters.
Before joining Alamo Group, Rizzuti was a VP, general counsel and secretary at Erickson Incorporated where he managed all legal affairs for the aviation services and manufacturing company, with an in-house team of lawyers and support staff. Before that, he was an associate general counsel at Hyster-Yale Group where he acted as the principal legal advisor for the company’s Asia-Pacific and China business units. Earlier in his career he worked with Clifford Chance as an associate. Rizzuti graduated from Penn State University with a JD and from Rutgers University with an undergraduate degree in engineering.
41. Joshua Nieto
General Counsel & Chief Compliance HIPPA Officer, University Health
Joshua Nieto began his professional career 19 years ago. Today, he is a General Counsel and Chief Compliance HIPPA Officer for University Health, a nationally recognized teaching hospital and comprehensive network of outpatient healthcare centers, and owned by the people of Bexar County. It is a national leader in advanced treatment options, new technologies, and clinical research. University Health is committed to delivering patient-centered, culturally competent and high-quality healthcare for adults and children, based on a strong foundation of outcomes‐based research and innovative teaching. It is one of the largest public health systems in the state of Texas and one of the largest employers in Bexar County, with over 6,000 employees, and more than 700 physicians.
Nieto first got his start in 2003 as an associate attorney at Brin & Brin. From there, he went on to Nieto & Nieto practicing general civil law before eventually returning to Brin & Brin as a partner where his primary focus was within litigation defense in the areas of medical malpractice, employment, personal injury, health care law, and construction. Nieto graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law with a JD and from Texas A&M University with an undergraduate degree in English language and literature.
44. Gabriel Head
Attorney, Cokinos Bosien & Young
Gabriel Head is an Attorney for Cokinos Bosien & Young. He first joined the firm in 2017. Well known for leadership and undisputed construction expertise since 1989, Cokinos Bosien & Young, with a team of over 100 dedicated professionals, has led the way in smart, knowledgeable construction & commercial real estate law, that provides all aspects of construction law to clients of all sizes through M&A transactions, venture financings, asset and equity acquisitions, IPOs, leveraged transactions and mezzanine financings. In today’s complex and constantly changing business environment, Cokinos Bosien & Young continues to use practical experience and pragmatic approaches to manage serious legal challenges.
Previously, Head was an associate at Curry, McSwain & McKendrick. Earlier in his career he worked with Ellis, Koeneke & Ramirez as an associate. Head earned a JD from Baylor University School of Law, and an MA in history from Texas State University.
47. Leslie Byrd
Leslie Byrd is the Attorney of Bracewell. She first joined the firm in 2000 as a partner. For over 75 years, Bracewell has focused on delivering superb service and sophisticated insight. It excels where collaboration and deep sector knowledge provide the edge, particularly in energy, infrastructure, finance and technology. Byrd has practiced labor and employment law representing employers for over 35 years, specializing in FLSA collective actions, USDOL regulatory advice and investigations and OFCCP administration and enforcement.
Previously, Byrd was a partner at Wells Pinckney & McHugh, and before that, a partner at Matthews and Branscomb. Earlier in her career she worked with Manitzas, Harris and Padgett. Byrd earned a JD from The University of Texas School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Tulane University.
49. Mark Cooper
Attorney, Naman Howell Smith & Lee PLLC
Mark Cooper is an Attorney with Naman Howell Smith & Lee, one of the oldest firms in Texas. It is committed to providing personalized legal solutions, tailored to the facts, circumstances, and needs presented. It is dedicated to helping resolve legal and business issues and disputes while providing the one-on-one attention that each client deserves. The firm has more than 70 lawyers in Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Waco. With four offices located along the Interstate 35 corridor and an active practice in courts throughout the State of Texas, Naman Howell Smith & Lee is uniquely situated to serve the needs of clients throughout this State. The firm also practices in many courts throughout the U.S., have represented and advised clients in business deals from coast to coast and beyond, and have the legal and practical capabilities to serve a wide variety of clients across a large geographic footprint. Cooper has 18 years of experience. He began his career in 2004.
Before joining Naman Howell Smith & Lee, Cooper was an attorney at Ball & Weed. Cooper graduated from Baylor University School of Law with a JD and from The University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree.
View the complete list of awardees.