As I have said in another portion of this website, I know many smart lawyers. Lawyers who are "Super Lawyers," lawyers who are "Stars," rising or otherwise, and lawyers whose litany of accomplishments could fill the space of a telephone book for a fair-sized metropolitan city. Although these accolades are well-earned and should be applauded, I have always strived to be something more than my resume or vitae. I have discovered in my conversations with clients and even candid visits with other attorneys that rarely will clients or prospective clients be impressed by those providing the laundry list of accomplishments. In my experience, clients already expect their lawyer to be smart. What I have learned is that clients desire and value a lawyer who will invest the time to know them as a person rather than a file so that during the course of the attorney-client relationship, the lawyer will care about them as people, listen to them, and communicate to them with as much regularity and frequency as required in the handling of their case from beginning to end. One would think this is what occurs with each and every relationship forged between client and lawyer, but sadly this is not the case.
Our commitment to building relationships with our clients is genuine and we hope that you will allow us the opportunity to develop those relationships. As a cornerstone of all relationships, sharing something personal about oneself rather than providing a somewhat tidy, but cold laundry list from one’s resume or vitae can be the best way to illuminate to the reader as to the type of person they are about to entrust to handle their most important matter. To that end:
I am a first generation Vietnamese-American. My family immigrated to the United States in 1975 as refugees fleeing Vietnam following the fall of Saigon to communism. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that by divine grace all members of my immediate family, seven of us, made it off the shores of a chaotic, war-torn country and onto a rickety boat that floated at the mercy of the South Pacific Ocean and eventually found our way to the United States.
My parents took the first work opportunity they were presented with and located to a small working class town in the Texas panhandle. My family was the first Vietnamese family to settle into the area and faced many hardships and challenges, including the fact that no one in my family spoke any English. I grew up watching my parents overcome numerous challenges, working tirelessly on minimum wage their entire lives in order to make a better life for their children. I, along with my five siblings, was reminded often in those early formidable years that faith, discipline, and a strong work ethic would provide one with the tools necessary for success. Not wanting their children to follow in their footsteps, my parents made sure that each of their children would not be outworked, especially in the classroom.
With limited financial means, but recognizing that higher education was the key to a better life, I worked hard in and out of the classroom and was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin on scholarship. As I did while I was in high school, I continued to work full and part time jobs in order to help pay for my undergraduate degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Political Science and History. Although nothing corporate, white collar, sophisticated, or refined about some of the jobs I worked during college, they provided some of the best learning opportunities for me and aided me a great deal in forging a strong work ethic and, in turn, provided a greater sense of priority regarding my studies. After completing my undergraduate coursework, I was accepted into law school at Southern Methodist University-Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas. During my law school studies, I was selected and appointed by the faculty and committee of Southern Methodist University as an academic fellow. I served in this role full-time during law school, advising, tutoring, and mentoring undergraduate students.
Upon graduation from law school, I returned to Austin, Texas, and began my law career in the public sector, learning the complexities and nuances of administrative law. My first job out of law school was with the then Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or "TCEQ") in their Legal Division. I then served as a prosecutor and senior hearings examiner for the Texas Department of Public Safety ("DPS"). Beginning in 2000, I served as the Assistant General Counsel for the Texas State Board of Nurse Examiners (now the Texas Board of Nursing or "BON"). At the BON, I was responsible for advising the staff regarding licensing and disciplinary issues, applicable statutes, and the Board’s rules and regulations, as well as the prosecution of disciplinary matters at contested case hearings ("CCH") before the State Office of Administrative Hearings ("SOAH"). Four years into my career as a young lawyer, I was targeted and was hired to serve as the head attorney (General Counsel) for the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners ("TSBDE"). I was one of the youngest attorneys in that position. In this role, I continued to implement, interpret, and enforce rules and procedures regarding the discipline of dentists, dental hygienists, and dental laboratories throughout Texas and oversaw the TSBDE’s entire disciplinary caseload, handling disciplinary and enforcement matters at informal settlement conferences ("ISC") as well as contested case hearings at SOAH.
My knowledge of administrative law was further shaped by my most recent experience, having served beginning in early 2005 as the General Counsel for the Travis Central Appraisal District ("TCAD"). While at TCAD, I advised and counseled two different leadership regimes, TCAD’s Board of Directors, and TCAD staff on numerous legal matters in the areas of ad valorem property tax, administrative law (i.e., compliance with the Public Information and Open Meeting Acts), employment law, and contract law. I had the opportunity to refine my advocacy skills defending the appraisal district in formal administrative hearings before the Appraisal Review Board ("ARB") and further sharpened my advocacy and litigation skills as I was responsible for TCAD’s entire litigation portfolio, a portfolio consisting of several hundred cases. Due to the high number of lawsuits, a considerable amount of time was spent in court litigating complex property tax issues.
Naturally, based on my extensive experiences with licensing boards and regulatory entities, I have developed an understanding and quiet appreciation for administrative law. I have a particular interest in licensing and enforcement issues which I find challenging, but worthwhile. I remain active in this area of the law serving as a frequent speaker on the topic of regulatory and licensing boards, professional license defense, and discipline/enforcement matters. I have been invited to speak before professional licensees, educators, student organizations, and professional associations and groups. I have also been invited by committees and sections of the State Bar of Texas to speak and present in the area of ad valorem property tax on a variety of topics. I currently write regular articles for professional groups ranging from engineers to nurses, and answer questions from professional licensees on a range of legal issues in a statewide quarterly newsletter in a section titled, "Ask The Lawyer."
I am a member in good standing of the Texas State Bar, Austin Bar Association, and am on the council of the Austin Asian American Bar Association where I remain active.
I live in Austin, Texas, and am married. Away from my practice, my wife and I devote our time and energies to our family. When time permits, which is almost nonexistent as anyone reading this with young children can attest, I enjoy gardening and tennis, a combination not mutually exclusive, but which provides much needed distraction.