In a “fast and furious” move just before the new year, Dylan O. Drummond and Kimberly Houston Drummond packed up their Dallas-area home and moved to San Antonio for Drummond to join Langley & Banack as equity shareholder.
Drummond, a longtime appellate lawyer, and his wife, a senior corporate counsel in Liberty Mutual Group’s employment law group, felt Langley & Banack’s offer came at an opportune time in their family’s life. The couple’s twins are set to begin kindergarten later this year, and Houston Drummond’s family is in San Antonio, where she is from. Houston Drummond will remain in her current role with Liberty Mutual Group, her husband said.
“All of that combined to make for an exciting opportunity for both of us and for our whole family,” said Drummond, whose first day with the firm was Jan. 2. In December he left Mayer in Dallas where he’d been a senior attorney.
Drummond said he has long known and respected lawyers at Langley, including Rob Ramsey whom Drummond called a “Texas appellate legend.” Drummond was also particularly excited to work with former Fourth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Catherine Stone, whom he’s known since his 2002 internship with Alma Lopez, then a justice who also went on to become Chief Justice. Drummond said he caught the “appellate practice bug” during that internship.
Drummond is a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has served as chair of the Texas Bar Appellate Section, chair of the Texas Bar College and president of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.
A few years ago, Drummond waded into the highly publicized lawsuit, McDonald v. Firth, that three conservative lawyers brought against the State Bar of Texas. The plaintiffs argued the state bar’s mandatory membership dues could not be spent on political activities they did not endorse, specifically pointing to the bar’s legislative and diversity initiatives.
Attorney General Ken Paxton sided with the plaintiffs in a friend-of-the-court brief.
Drummond represented 13 former Texas Bar presidents, seven former Texas Bar College chairs and four former chairs of the Texas Bar Council of Chairs as amicus counsel before the Fifth Circuit.
“I was proud to challenge the Texas attorney general’s characterization of the Texas Bar’s diversity programs as ‘divisive’ by reminding the Court the last time a Texas attorney general unsuccessfully argued that diversity in the legal profession was a matter of public controversy was in SCOTUS’s landmark decision in Sweatt v. Painter that desegregated UT Law School,” Drummond said.
The state bar made changes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, partly ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, approved financing activities germane to the legal profession and legal services but not for funding of political or ideological activities.
Over the last several years, Drummond said appellate lawyers have seen a trend of more aggressive litigation tactics at the trial level, particularly from attorneys in auto and property claims cases.
Some lawyers have taken to social media to begrudge what they’ve called “lawyer bullies.” Appellate lawyer D. Todd Smith of Butler Snow, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in October: “I have a few cases in which opposing counsel really needs to be taken out behind the woodshed. I would ordinarily avoid making it about the lawyer, but bullying as a legal strategy has gotten out of hand. I’m an appellate lawyer. If this is what trial lawyers see day in and day out, I truly fear for our profession. No wonder we’re in a constant mental-health crisis.”
The coarse tone filters up to the appellate level, Drummond said.
“My experience has been that these overly-aggressive tactics tend to be less successful as matters wind their way up the appellate ladder,” Drummond said. “And my approach to dealing with folks who employ these approaches is not to respond in kind but instead to just beat them on the merits.”