Don Cruse

Appellate Practice

My practice focuses on civil appeals in the Texas Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, and Texas intermediate courts of appeals. I have worked for a large corporate law firm, for a state attorney general, and as a judicial law clerk, giving me a solid basis for handling complex commercial or tort cases, as well as tricky procedural, statutory, and constitutional questions.

I publish the Supreme Court of Texas blog, which offers opinion summaries, practice notes, and updates on pending petitions. I serve as a board member for the Austin Bar Civil Appellate Section and have been selected a "Super Lawyers Rising Star" in Texas Appellate Law (in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013).

Legal Background

I began my career with a one-year clerkship for Justice Priscilla Owen at the Texas Supreme Court, which is Texas's highest court for civil cases.

After that, I worked as a litigator for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York. While there, I worked on a variety of high-stakes commercial disputes. The cases involved complex questions of contract law, insurance coverage, business torts, securities fraud, bankruptcy, antitrust law, and federal regulatory investigations. I was a member of the trial team in IBP, Inc. v. Tyson Foods, a landmark merger case in the Delaware Court of Chancery, and I also worked on the property-insurance lawsuit filed to help rebuild the World Trade Center as well as cases involving internet domain names, trademark law, and copyright.

In 2003, I returned to my home state of Texas to serve in the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) in the Texas Office of the Attorney General, which handles the State’s most significant appellate cases. As an Assistant Solicitor General, I argued before the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and several Texas state appellate courts. I also wrote briefs to the United States Supreme Court and was second chair in a significant elections case.

In the Texas Supreme Court, my cases included Reata Construction Co. v. City of Dallas, an important case about sovereign immunity in contract cases; NCAA v. Yeo, a case about the due process rights afforded to student athletes; and Texas A&M University v. Koseoglu, a procedural case about suing state officials for breach of a settlement agreement.

In the Fifth Circuit, I was lead counsel for the State in Allstate v. Abbott, in which Allstate hired former solicitor general Kenneth Starr to attack a Texas law that limits its expansion into the auto-repair business. I also served as lead counsel in Equal Access for El Paso v. Hawkins, which was a challenge to the equity of Texas's Medicaid system.

Educational Background

I was born and raised in Arlington, Texas, where I attended Martin High School. In 1991, I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where I was a Texas Excellence and Dedman Scholar and earned bachelors degrees in economics and in mathematics.

Between college and law school, I worked as an economic analyst for a national real-estate investment firm located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

At UT Law School, I competed on several interscholastic appellate moot court teams and, as a 2L and a 3L, won intramural appellate-advocacy contests. I was an associate editor on the Texas Law Review, and I was elected to Order of the Coif (for academics), Order of Barristers (for advocacy), and the UT Friar Society.