Biography

Cort Thomas

Cort is a trial attorney and trained problem solver who draws on a broad base of experience to craft unique solutions for his clients. After earning a long list of honors during college and law school—all at the University of Texas—he gained invaluable experience and exposure as a law clerk to a federal judge in Dallas. Cort then spent seven years honing his litigation skills at Vinson & Elkins, LLP, one of the largest international law firms in Texas. Through these experiences, Cort has learned how to solve complicated problems in an efficient, client-centered manner. He relishes building rapport with his clients and helping them analyze legal strategy and risks. Cort is always prepared to boldly pursue his clients’ cause all of the way through trial.

Experience

Federal Court Litigation. Cort has extensive litigation experience in federal district courts and bankruptcy courts throughout the United States and frequently serves as local counsel for matters pending in Dallas. He recently completed service as the President of the Dallas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and continues to serve on the Northern District of Texas’s Bench Bar Committee. He began his legal career as a law clerk in the chambers of United States District Judge Jane J. Boyle, where he learned the ins and outs of local practice. Examples of Cort’s work in local federal courts includes:

  • (N.D. Tex.) — Represented an oil and gas company in securities fraud litigation brought by liquidating trustee of gas exploration companies
  • (N.D. Tex. & E.D. Tex.) — Represented manufacturer of home construction materials in series of products liability cases brought by subrogee insurance companies
  • (N.D. Tex. & D. Del. ) — Defended master limited partnership, affiliates, and directors against shareholders’ securities claims under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934
  • (N.D. Tex.) — Served as local counsel and represented large biotech company in employment dispute with former employee
  • (N.D. Tex.) — Served as local counsel and represented a major health care provider in a lawsuit against a repricing company for false advertising under the Lanham Act and other business torts
  • (N.D. Tex.) — Served as court-appointed guardian ad litem in personal injury case
  • (N.D. Tex.) — Served as member of the court’s CJA panel for federal criminal cases
  • (Bankr. W.D. La.) — Represented secured lender in chapter 11 cases filed in Lafayette, Louisiana
  • (Bank. S.D. Tex.) — Represented GOM working interest owner in adversary proceeding brought in Houston, Texas
  • (Bankr. S.D. Tex.) — Advised private equity firm in connection with prepackaged chapter 11 filing of GOM E&P subsidiary

Other Commercial Litigation. Cort also has extensive experience litigating disputes in state courts throughout Texas and before administrative tribunals, including the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) and Office of Financial Institution Adjudication (OFIA). He has handled a wide array of energy-related cases, ranging from disputes over oil and gas joint operating agreements, to gas service agreements, to CCN proceedings surrounding the construction of an electric transmission line.   He has also defended bank executives against their removal from banking, represented large private equity funds and fund-backed subsidiaries in contract disputes, and helped landlords deal with difficult tenants. Examples of Cort’s other commercial litigation experience includes:

  • (Tex. Cnty. Courts) — Represented both property owners and utilities in eminent domain proceedings related to electric transmission lines and state highway takings
  • (PUCT) — Represented electric utility in various disputes before the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the Austin Court of Appeals, and various other Texas state courts
  • (PUCT) — Represented electric utility in base rate case and change of control proceedings
  • (OFIA, FDIC, 5th Cir.) — Defended bank director in enforcement action brought by FDIC relating to alleged breaches of fiduciary duty, violations of law, and unsafe and unsound practices
  • (Tex. Dist. – Dallas Cnty.) — Represented home healthcare business in defending claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference in connection with employee non-solicitation agreements
  • (Tex. Dist. – Reeves & Pecos Cntys.) — Represented large E&P company in connection with series of AMI and title disputes
  • (Tex. Dist. – Dallas Cnty.) — Represented private equity firm in connection with non-operating working interests in Permian Basin and dispute over JOA
  • (Tex. Dist. – Dallas Cnty.) — Represented a landlord in various lease disputes with tenants in various state district courts, resulting in several judgments for landlord
  • (Tex. Dist. – Harris Cnty.) — Represented land owner in boundary line dispute with adjoining landowner
  • Represented gas distributor in dispute with intrastate natural gas pipeline company regarding terms of gas services agreement and statement of operating conditions
  • Represented a publicly traded asset management company in various disputes with former employees and other claimants in Texas and Kansas

Alternative Dispute Resolution. While Cort enjoys defending his clients in traditional court proceedings, he understands that the best, most cost-effective solution might be something other than traditional litigation. He has represented clients in multiple private arbitrations, including special expedited arbitrations aimed at minimizing costs for all parties involved. Cort has advised clients through multiple successful mediations, with some even taking place before any discovery had occurred.

  • (Arbitration) — Represented private equity firm in AAA arbitration involving corporate tax dispute involving purchase and sale agreement
  • (Arbitration) — Represented various midstream and E&P companies in arbitrations involving purchase and sale agreements and indemnity claims

Mediator. Cort also serves as a mediator and has mediated a variety of commercial disputes, including cases involving construction defects, landlord-tenant disputes, DTPA claims, wrongful foreclosures, wrongful repossessions, breaches of contract, and attorney-client disputes. In addition to mediating for a fee, Cort provides pro bono mediation services through the Dallas County Dispute Resolution Center.

Outside General Counsel. Cort comes from a family of entrepreneurs and uniquely understands the demands on small and medium-sized business owners, having worked in a family business for several years before attending law school and continuing to lend his legal expertise to multiple family businesses thereafter.

Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • Northern District of Texas
  • Eastern District of Texas
  • Southern District of Texas
  • Texas (all courts)

Professional Affiliations and Activities

  • Member, N.D. Tex. Court Advisory Committee
  • Member, N.D. Tex. CJA Panel
  • Attorney Liaison, N.D. Tex. Pro Bono Civil Panel
  • Member, N.D. Tex. Bench Bar Committee (Past Co-Chair)
  • Executive Committee, Federal Bar Association Dallas Chapter (Past President)
  • Associate Member, National Association of Federal Equity Receivers
  • Member, Dallas Bar Association
  • Member, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers

Education

Cort earned his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a part of the Plan II honors program and also majored in Government and Spanish. Cort was a National Merit Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Distinguished Honors Scholar.

After spending time working in the construction industry, Cort returned to the University of Texas to pursue his law degree. During law school, Cort served as a staff editor and later a member of the Editorial Board of both the Review of Litigation and the American Journal of Criminal Law. He received the Dean’s Achievement Award for obtaining the highest grade in his construction law class, and ultimately graduated with honors. His favorite course in law school was a Supreme Court Litigation seminar taught by current United States Senator Ted Cruz and current Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jim Ho.

  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D., with honors, 2010
    • Chief Articles Editor, The Review of Litigation
    • Editor-at-Large, The American Journal of Criminal Law
    • Dean’s Achievement Award, Construction Law
  • The University of Texas at Austin, B.A., with high honors, 2006
    • Triple major in Plan II, Government, and Spanish; Minors in History and Latin American Studies
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Distinguished Honors Scholar, National Merit Scholar
    • Senior Thesis: “Sport and War: The Value of Sport as an Instrument of Peace”

Professional Background

  • Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Jane J. Boyle, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, 2010 – 2011
  • Vinson & Elkins LLP, 2011-2018

Publications

  • “Enforcing a Pipeline Carrier’s Liens: Pipelines’ Powerful Lien Rights over Shippers’ Oil and Gas Secures Their Transportation Charges,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal (May 2017), co-authored with Josiah Daniel
  • “Criminal Malpractice: Avoiding the Chutes and Using the Ladders,” American Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 37, Pg. 331 (Summer 2010)
  • “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: A Decade of Rapid Expansion Explained, Defended, and Justified,” The Review of Litigation, Vol. 39, Pg. 439 (Winter 2010)

In the Community

Cort has dedicated a substantial portion of his practice to giving back to the community and supporting important causes through pro bono legal services. He was recognized as a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017, meaning that he spent a minimum of 75 hours each year providing legal services to the poor. Examples of Cort’s pro bono representations include:

  • Represented Members of Congress in filing an amicus brief at the United States Supreme Court in support of a high school coach who was fired for kneeling and praying after football games.
  • Represented a local church in a property dispute
  • Represented an individual in obtaining affirmative asylum in the United States based on past political persecution and torture overseas
  • Represented individuals in seeking guardianship of the person over their incapacitated adult children
  • Represented animal rescue organizations in probate disputes, as well as claims by individuals regarding the rightful ownership of pets
  • Served as a volunteer prosecutor at the City of Grand Prairie Municipal Court, including arguing more than a dozen jury and bench trials to verdict

Cort also serves in various capacities outside of the legal profession:

  • Volunteer, West Dallas Community School
  • Secretary, Finance Team at City Church International
  • Member, Dallas Justice
  • Trained in Christian conciliation and peacemaking

Personal

Cort was born and raised in Richardson, Texas. He attended Providence Christian School through his sophomore year of high school and graduated from Trinity Christian Academy, where he met his wife, Kelsey. They have been married for over 10 years and have a daughter and two sons. Prior to receiving his law degree, Cort worked as a licensed fire suppression technician and also installed fire alarm and burglar alarm systems. In his spare time, Cort enjoys playing golf and basketball, fishing with his family, and woodworking. Cort and Kelsey are members of City Church International in Dallas.