Omar J. Alaniz: 2011 National Outstanding Young Lawyer

Volume 37, Number 4

By

Kara J. Johnson is the Associate Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate with the Bismarck, North Dakota, firm of Zuger Kirmis & Smith.

The ABA YLD’s National Outstanding Young Lawyer of 2011 is Omar J. Alaniz, a Senior Associate at Baker Botts L.L.P.’s Dallas office. Mr. Alaniz received the award formally during Assembly at the ABA YLD Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 4, 2012.

Professional Experience

In his eight years of practice, Mr. Alaniz has become recognized as an up-and-coming force in the Texas bankruptcy bar. Mr. Alaniz’s professional focus is the area of complex Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations and liquidations.

Before joining Baker Botts, Mr. Alaniz received his B.A. in economics from Austin College in 2000 and his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003. He served as an associate at Neligan Foley LLP in Dallas for three years before going to work as a law clerk to the Honorable D. Michael Lynn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas. After his clerkship, Mr. Alaniz joined Baker Botts and has been practicing there for the past four years.

In his work at Baker Botts, Jack L. Kinzie, the partner-in-charge of the Dallas office and chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy practice, stated that Mr. Alaniz “ranks at the highest level among his peers regarding both his professional skills and his ethical conduct.” Mr. Kinzie praised Mr. Alaniz for his work performance and stated that Mr. Alaniz “brings a creative approach to solving clients’ legal problems.” As a result, Mr. Kinzie stated that Mr. Alaniz has worked “on some of the firm’s most complex and significant matters.”

Mr. Alaniz is a frequent speaker in continuing education courses on bankruptcy law. Groups that he has presented to have included the National Hispanic Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and the University of Houston Law Foundation, to name a few. He has spoken on topics such as the “Fundamentals of Bankruptcy,” “Attorney Fee Disputes in Bankruptcy,” and “Bankruptcy Law for Non-Bankruptcy Lawyers.”

In addition to his bankruptcy practice, Mr. Alaniz serves as an adjunct faculty member of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, where he teaches corporate restructuring. According to Martin Camp, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, “His student evaluations are outstanding and the [Dedman School of Law] has been blessed to have him teach here. The students love him and his mentorship is an inspiration.” Mr. Alaniz is a faculty sponsor for the law school’s OutLaw group, a student organization dedicated to LGBT persons and their allies in society, the legal community, and at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Mr. Alaniz serves as a coach for the law school’s Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Team. Under Mr. Alaniz’s leadership, the moot court team has won several awards and has received national recognition. Mr. Alaniz “spends countless hours working with the students as they prepare,” said Dean Camp. “I know that he is and will continue to make his mark on the practice and those who have the privilege to work with and mentor under him.”

The Honorable Harlin D. “Cooter” Hale, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge for the Northern District of Texas and one of Mr. Alaniz’s co-teachers at the law school, stated: “In my opinion, there is no one more deserving of this prestigious award than Omar Alaniz. He is tireless in his service to his profession, the community, and the furtherance of education, both professional and public, as witnessed by his many activities.”

Bar and Community Service

Mr. Alaniz is highly dedicated to exercising a positive influence on the community. In 2010 alone, Mr. Alaniz logged over 500 hours of pro bono work, above and beyond his billable hours requirements. Mr. Alaniz’s pro bono cases included contested family law issues, deceptive trade practices, consumer fraud, and landlord-tenant issues.

According to Natalie Cobb Koehler, Texas Young Lawyers Association President, Mr. Alaniz “stands out—head and shoulders—as an example of the type of uncommon leader that TYLA hopes all Texas lawyers become.” She stated: “Those fortunate enough to know Mr. Alaniz consider him to be an overly humble, salt-of-the-earth man, who is more interested in learning about and helping you.”

Mr. Alaniz was instrumental in developing the MoneyWise program (www.savemoney.com) created by the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas. MoneyWise is a comprehensive teaching tool to promote educating high school students about financial management. The program allows high school students to learn about budgeting, setting financial goals, and preparing for their futures. It also allows them the opportunity to interact with a bankruptcy attorney who presents the program in an hour through a FlashPoint presentation with corresponding handouts and real-life scenarios. Mr. Alaniz has personally presented the MoneyWise program several times throughout the Dallas Independent School District.

In addition to helping develop the MoneyWise program, Mr. Alaniz has overseen its implementation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he served as the program’s regional coordinator. Mr. Alaniz also served as the statewide young lawyer liaison for the program.

In an effort to reach beyond high school students, Mr. Alaniz is an active volunteer at the Julius Dorsey Elementary School. Mr. Alaniz worked to develop a Law Day curriculum for sixth grade students and a “legal” pen pal experience for third grade students. The Principal, Antonio L. Verduzco, stated that Mr. Alaniz has shown “clear initiative, stamina, and dedication to community outreach, as well as his legal responsibilities.”

In his service to the bar, Mr. Alaniz acted as the first Liaison of Professional Education for the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas when the Bankruptcy Section created its own Young Lawyers Committee. He served in that capacity for two years and now serves as the Liaison of Public Education. The section president invited him to serve as a member of the section’s council and created an officer position specifically for him: Vice President/Membership.

In 2006, the newly formed DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) Association of Young Bankruptcy Lawyers invited Mr. Alaniz to be the first Chair of the Mentoring Committee. After serving as the Mentoring Chair, Mr. Alaniz was appointed to the Treasurer position. Then, in 2008, he became the group’s first elected president.

Recently, Mr. Alaniz has undertaken a new project with the ABA. He will provide quarterly updates regarding interpretations of the Anna Nicole Smith bankruptcy case, Stern v. Marshall, in the ABA Section of Litigation’s Bankruptcy & Insolvency Litigation Committee’s newsletter.

Awards and Recognition

In addition to this award, Mr. Alaniz received the awards for the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas for the 2010–2011 bar year and the 2011 Outstanding Young Lawyer of Dallas Award. Mr. Alaniz also received the John C. Akard Community Service Award from the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas, and D Magazine recognized Mr. Alaniz as one of the 2011 “Best Lawyers in Dallas.” Mr. Alaniz was one of only 20 attorneys recognized in the “Bankruptcy and Workout” category.

In 2010, Mr. Alaniz received the Romina L. Mulloy Award for the “Outstanding Young Bankruptcy Lawyer” from the State Bar of Texas’s Young Lawyers Committee and was also recognized as a “Texas Super Lawyer’s—Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters in Texas Monthly in the area of Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights.

Memberships

Mr. Alaniz is a member of the American Bar Association. He chairs the Diversity Subcommittee of the ABA Section of Litigation’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Litigation Committee. Mr. Alaniz also serves on the board of directors as the Secretary to the Bankruptcy Section of the Dallas Bar Association. In addition to these leadership roles, Mr. Alaniz is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Young Bankruptcy Lawyers, the State Bar of Texas, the Young Lawyers Committee of the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Honorable John C. Ford American Inn of Court (whose membership is limited to bankruptcy practitioners).

Personal Life

In addition to all of his professional and community service activities, Mr. Alaniz and his partner, Brandon, are the proud parents of one-year-old twins, Ava and Oliver. With any spare time he has, Mr. Alaniz likes to spend it at home with his family.

Finalists

Two other individuals were recognized as finalists for the National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award: Angela R. Stephens, a Member of Stites & Harbison, PLLC, in Louisville, Kentucky; and Dolores Dorsainvil, a Senior Staff Attorney at the District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel.

Ms. Stephens focuses her practice in the area of construction law. With a background in civil engineering and a dedication to the legal aspects of “green” building, Ms. Stephens has quickly become a recognized leader in her area of practice.

Ms. Dorsainvil is the Co-Chair of the ABA YLD Ethics & Professionalism Committee and has spent a significant amount of time representing the interests of young lawyers on the ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission and speaking and writing on ethical issues. In addition to her work in the field of ethics, Ms. Dorsainvil is the co-founder of the Dorsainvil Foundation, which works to ensure that adequate health care is available in Haiti.

Thank you to all the organizations who submitted nominations for the National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. For more information or for questions about the awards process, please contact Lesley Pate Marlin, Awards and Subgrants Team member, at
lpmarlin@venable.com.

 

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