Lindsay Stafford Mader 2014-04-26 02:46:05
Four Generations of Law and Helping Others On a brisk winter morning on the 11th floor of 100 Congress Avenue in Austin, Edward Clinton Small and Cecily Small Gooch spoke with the Texas Bar Journal about their four-generation family of Texas lawyers. Ed Small is a partner in the firm of Jackson Walker and has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural law and lobbying, while his daughter, Cecily, is special counsel for restructuring at Energy Future Holdings Corp. in Dallas. Ed’s father, Charles Clinton Small Jr., practiced law in Austin for 66 years and served as president of the State Bar of Texas, and his grandfather, Charles Clinton Small Sr.—the family’s first attorney—was a Texas senator for areas of the Panhandle. Floor-to-ceiling windows of a conference room named after Small Jr. afforded a view of cranes building high-rises into the sky of the rapidly changing city that the Small family has been a prominent part of for almost nine decades. The father’s and daughter’s stories, passed down orally through the generations, amount to a lively primer on Texas history. Small Sr. was born in Collinsville, Ala., on May 22, 1888, and moved west with his family when he was about three years old. “He actually came to Texas as a baby and lived in a tent in what is now Collingsworth County, Wellington, Texas,” said Ed. “He was in the class of 1911 at the University of Texas law school, which was the first class to graduate from the dedicated law building.” With his law degree, Small Sr. returned to Wellington and practiced as county and city attorney, county judge, and district judge for a short time before being elected state senator in the late 1920s. As a lawmaker for 12 years, he sponsored the Small Bill that ensured public access to navigable streams and riverbeds, helped pass the State Bar Act, and wrote significant oil and gas regulation during the Texas oil boom of the 1930s. During this time, he often brought along Small Jr., who was in high school, on legal adventures. “My father and Pop flew—imagine this—over to East Texas for a hot oil situation, and they were picked up by the captain of the Texas Rangers, Lone Wolf Gonzaullas,” said Ed. “He carried two pearl-handled pistols. They got in his car, and there was a Thompson submachine gun right in front of Daddy!” Perhaps it was the excitement of these errands or his genetic destiny that led Small Jr. to pursue his degree from the University of Texas School of Law and join his father at Small, Small & Craig (later Small, Craig & Werkenthin)—which the elder had established after retiring from the Senate and moving permanently to Austin. The father and son pair worked together on many cases, including their representation of Coke Stevenson, the former Texas governor whose lost bid against Lyndon Baines Johnson for U.S. Senate caused allegations of voter fraud. “They flew down to Duval County with the Texas Rangers— they flew around a lot with Texas Rangers—and they had the ballot box and they opened the box,” said Ed. “The last of 25 voters in that box that day all voted in alphabetical order. And they all signed with the same pen and it sure did look like the same person’s signature. That box disappeared the next day.” Small Jr. served more than 35 years as general counsel to the Texas Savings and Loan League, was on the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, and served as State Bar of Texas president in 1965. To honor his legacy of improving education, AISD named a middle school after Small Jr. in 2009. As for Ed, his legal life became set in stone when he was still a UT undergraduate and Longhorn football player under Darrell Royal. “The dean of the law school called me and said, ‘Ed, when you’re in law school next year, we need to talk about a few things.’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about? I have another season of football.’ And he said, ‘Well the big boy [Small Jr.] called and said the kid is ready for law school.’ And I was. So I played football and went to law school. What I remember about my grandfather is what people thought of him. And the aura of my father had a lot of impact on me. He received all the awards for top students in law school—he was smart.” Ed became licensed by the State Bar in 1970 and went on to join Small, Craig & Werkenthin, earning a reputation as a straight-shooting litigator and effective lobbyist for a variety of clients including the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Lower Colorado River Authority. (In 1999, their firm merged with Jackson Walker’s Austin office.) Ed also served on the AISD board in the 1980s, helping implement the district-wide busing initiative to integrate the city’s schools. Like her father and grandfather, Cecily Small Gooch grew up around attorneys and politicians. Still, she tossed around the idea that she would become a doctor—which was the only career other than being an attorney that she could think of. “I loved politics and policy, but I had really big shoes to fill,” said Cecily. “So I thought about helping people in a different way. But then by my junior year of college, I changed—maybe organic chemistry had something to do with that. But really, I was meant to go into the law.” Once she entered law school, also at UT, Cecily got internships with Kay Bailey Hutchison and then-Gov. George W. Bush. Her first post-degree job was at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She moved to Dallas in 1998 when her husband was offered a careerchanging position and worked with Hunton & Williams before starting a seven-year stint as general counsel to TXU Energy. In Dallas, Cecily continues the family tradition of helping others, having co-founded United Way’s Women of Tocqueville. “Growing up,” she said, “I saw my dad and grandfather as being very respected for helping others. And that’s why I wanted to go into the law. I did not realize that there was any kind of negative stigma to any part of the legal field probably until I was a third-year law student and started hearing lawyer jokes. But that’s not the way I look at it. My family has felt great pride in helping others through our legal careers.”
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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