Deborah Hankinson excels in many roles: appellate attorney, mediator, arbitrator, oral advocate, strategist and problem solver. In each, she draws on her background as a trial and appellate lawyer and jurist to bring a unique combination of skills and outstanding value to her clients. She is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a member of the American Law Institute, and she sits on the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
Deborah started her career as a trial and appellate attorney in private practice after graduating at the top of her class at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. In 1995, she was appointed, and later elected, to serve as a Justice on the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas, before serving as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas from 1997 to 2002.
Since her return to private practice, Deborah has been a trailblazer in her approach to the practice of appellate law. Clients retain her not only for her excellence in oral advocacy and post-verdict briefing, but also to work closely with trial teams to develop and execute pretrial and trial strategy, build evidence, and optimize the positioning of a case for trial and appeal. As an essential member of the trial team, Deborah reviews briefs and coaches attorneys preparing for oral argument. She is frequently sought out before lawsuits are filed for her problem-solving acumen to help address potential issues early and identify pathways to resolution, helping save time and money for clients.
In addition to her appellate practice, Deborah has served as a special master and dispute resolution officer and maintains a vibrant Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice. She often serves as a neutral in arbitration proceedings and is a sought-after mediator for conflicts that include sophisticated business disputes, complex tort cases, and sensitive employment issues.
Deborah is nationally recognized for her deep commitment to equal access to justice. At the Supreme Court of Texas, she was a driving force behind the creation of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which works to ensure that low-income Texans are properly represented in civil legal matters. Since then, Deborah has worked for fairness and justice in jurisdictions across the United States. In 2003, the Access to Justice Commission recognized her many contributions by establishing the Deborah G. Hankinson Access to Justice Awards, which reward local bar associations and Texas Young Lawyers Association affiliates in cities with the highest percentage of attorneys donating to legal aid.