“This is 2020,” as legendary news anchor Barbara Walters was famous for saying at the start of her weekly Friday night show, was heard numerous times to begin this year. At the time, everyone was excited and hopeful for the first year of the third decade of the 21st century. Little did we know that 2020 would quickly turn into the year of COVID-19. While this year has been full of plenty of bad news, there have been some positives as well. Let’s take a look back at what the year 2020 has brought to RMWBH.
Promotions and New Attorneys
2020 has been a great year for many of our attorneys. Several have grown and advanced in their careers at RMWBH. This year, Clint Brown, Dustin Fessler and Justin Markel were promoted to Equity Shareholders. Also, Clint and Justin were named the heads of their respective practice areas. Clint is now the head of our Property Owners Association Practice and Justin is now the head of our Corporate practice.
In addition to announcing the promotions of new Equity Shareholders, we also announced the promotion of new Shareholders. David Bledsoe, Mia Lorick and Sarah Vida became the firm’s newest Shareholders.
2020 also brought several new faces to the firm. Leah Burton joined RMWBH as a Shareholder in our San Antonio Office. We have also had several new Associates join this year. Lane Ballinger joined our Austin Office as a member of the Litigation team. Braden Burgess and Matthew Mouer joined our Houston Office as members of the Corporate team, and Isabella Vickers joined our Houston Office as a member of the Real Estate team.
Lane, Matthew and Isabella are all beginning their legal careers with us. Each of these great associates initially started with our firm as law clerks as they were completing law school and have worked their way through law school to continue with our firm as associates. We congratulate each attorney on their promotions and welcome each new attorney to our firm.
2020 has also been another year of great accolades for our firm and its attorneys. The year began in January with Shareholder Mia Lorick being named a Top 40 Under 40 by the National Black Lawyers. The great news continued for Mia in February when she was named a Texas Outstanding Young Women Lawyers of 2019 by Texas Monthly.
February also brought us the news that Shareholders Jane Janecek, Mia Lorick and Eric Tonsul received new Board Certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Jane and Eric became Board Certified in Property Owners Association Law and Mia became Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law. The great news in February did not stop there because Shareholder Brady Ortego was named the CAI Business Partner of the Year by the San Antonio Chapter of CAI.
The accolades continued in June when we found out Founding Shareholder Marc Markel had been named as a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. June also brought us the news that Shareholder Rick Anderson received the President’s Award from the Houston Bar Association.
As we rolled into July, Shareholder Leah Burton was named President-Elect of the San Antonio Chapter of CAI, and Shareholder Sipra Boyd was elected to the State Bar of Texas Real Estate and Probate Trust Council.
August brought further great news for several members of the firm as Marc Markel was named a co-recipient of the Steven C. Haley Award for Best Speaker at the 2019 Advanced Real Estate Law Course. We also learned that Paul Gaines had been appointed to the board of the Texas Community Association Advocates (TCAA) and would be very involved in the upcoming legislative session. Finally, we learned Cliff Davis had become a member of the Texas Bar College.
Exiting the long Texas summer and headed towards fall, September brought the news that Marc Markel’s and Founding Shareholder Rick Butler’s names once again appeared in “The Best Lawyers in America” for their work in real estate law.
October brought several accolades from TexasBarCLE, Marc Markel, Mia Lorick and Founding Shareholder Gregg Weinberg each had presentations top rated for the State Bar’s 2019 real estate courses. We also learned the Houston Business Journal, ranked the firm as the 41st Largest in Houston ranking alongside worldwide firms such as Vinson & Elkins, Baker Botts and Norton Rose Fulbright.
October also marked the 40th anniversary of our founding. We were not able to celebrate with our friends together like we initially hoped, but we were able to bring our Founding Shareholders together and learn more about their careers and the history of the firm in their own words.
Finally, as we approach the close of the year, we were excited to learn Clint Brown had joined Marc Markel and Brady Ortego as a member of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers. We were also thrilled to discover the firm had been named the Second Place Winner Houston Real Estate Law Firm in the Best of 2020 by Texas Lawyer.
What will forever be the defining event of 2020 – COVID-19, the Coronavirus. Millions of Americans have been infected, hundreds of thousands of others have died. Every American has been touched by COVID-19 in some way. At RMWBH, we were forced to leave our offices on March 17 and have not fully returned since. Thanks to your trust and patience in us we were able to convert to a fully remote working environment. Beginning in the summer of 2018, our firm began investing in technology to enable our employees to work remotely. At the time, our investment and planning in technology was to prepare for the next hurricane after the Southeast Texas area was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. We could never have anticipated a global pandemic would keep us away from our offices for now approaching nine months. Thanks to our preparedness and having shifted to a partial work from home schedule for a portion of the staff, we were able to quickly shift to being fully remote and continue to bring you the quality legal service you have come to expect from our staff and attorneys over the last 40 years.
Thankfully the time of COVID-19 has not been completely negative. With your support, we have grown our webinar program by leaps and bounds. What started in August 2019 as one webinar a month with just a few people logging on has grown to three webinars a month with an average of 150 clients and business partners. This is in no small part because of your trust in us to bring you the legal information you needed when things were at their most uncertain at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in late March, our team of POA attorneys worked relentlessly to bring you the most up-to-date information related to the changing local and state orders. During one webinar session almost 400 of you joined us. We thank you for your continued support of our webinars, we are excited to bring you more in 2021.
What’s Ahead for 2021
In 2021, we hope to be able to see you all in person again. While we are hopeful our in-person education and events program can resume, rest assured our webinar program will not be going away. We will continue to bring you the POA related legal education you have come to know our firm for.
Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic persisting, 2021 is still uncertain at this time. Our hearts go out to all of those who have lost loved ones and have been affected by this horrible virus. We hope the upcoming holiday season will bring a little joy and happiness to you all.
Thank you for your support of RMWBH over the last 40 years. We look forward to continuing to serve you and your legal needs for at least another 40 years to come.