Legal research and writing has been Kay’s primary focus throughout her thirty-eight (38) years of practicing law. The foundation for that focus was laid in 1979 when Kay became a law clerk with the Honorable John R. Brown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Notably, Kay was the first law graduate of the University of St. Mary’s School of Law to be awarded a Fifth Circuit clerkship. During that year, she was exposed to hundreds of appellate briefs, a multitude of oral arguments, and drafted forty (40) or more opinions which eventually became published. That law clerk experience made an indelible impression. Kay came to realize and appreciate the persuasive power of the legal pen.
Prior to law school, Kay was born and grew up in Dallas, attended Woodrow Wilson High School, and then graduated from Baylor University with a BA in history and political science and a minor in education. Following Baylor, she was awarded a scholarship to SMU to study for a Masters’ Degree in American History. Kay’s thesis was “The American Character and the West: A Case Study of Gold Mining in Colorado.” It was a fascinating study and writing experience based on primary sources of a collection of gold miners’ diaries from 1870 to 1880 contained at the famous SMU DeGolyer Foundation Library and The Rocky Mountain News of that same period on microfiche housed at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth. Both of these sources were invaluable in gaining an insight into the evolution of the predominate character trait of a stubborn individualism in the miners, which was manifested in the development of crude and wasteful mining techniques and machinery. Both the miners’ individualism and the technology that evolved, were, in large part, born out of the rugged mountain environment. Native Coloradans profess that character trait lives on today.
After completion of her Masters’ degree, Kay taught government and economics, Texas History, and Old and New Testament, the latter as an elective course, for five years at Westchester High School in the Spring Branch Independent School District in west Houston. Teaching was great fun, but having always wanted to be a lawyer, (must have been that old “Perry Mason” television series), Kay took the LSAT, cashed in her teacher’s retirement, borrowed the rest, and headed to San Antonio and St. Mary’s. There were few women law students in 1977 and the professors tried their best to “toughen-up” the ladies who would soon face the “good ole boy” lawyers’ network in the real world. One particular professor when calling on Kay to recite, would begin with the preface, “Well, let’s see what our skirted-overachiever has for us today.” It worked. St. Mary’s really prepared Kay well for the career that followed which, after the clerkship, began with her first job at a prestigious Houston firm, Reynolds, Allen & Cook, comprised at that time of two women lawyers and sixty-eight (68) male attorneys.
Over her career, Kay has tried cases but prefers research, writing and appellate work, over the courtroom. One particular venture was the writing of an amicus curiae brief for the largest Pennzoil shareholder in the landmark case of Texaco Inc. v. Pennzoil Co. in 1987 which, at the time, was the largest jury verdict in Texas history. Another notable experience was the writing of all the appellate briefs including the Texas Supreme Court brief in Canadian Helicopters Ltd. v. Wittig which resulted in a rule change the following year regarding special appearances.
Kay has practiced in large and small firms, and represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of subjects from state and federal securities fraud, RICO, oil and gas, admiralty, contracts, DTPA, personal injury, products liability, and medical malpractice but her favorite of all, has been the representation of policyholders against insurers for the last nine (9) years. Kay finds this area of the law most interesting and rewarding and she vows that as long as she practices law, she will continue to press her writing skills into action for policyholders.
Kay is licensed in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Divisions, and Texas state courts.