A recognized appellate lawyer, Kevin Parker develops cases from the outset with an eye towards their survival on appeal.
Parker is the Managing Attorney of the Issues and Appeals group of the Lanier Law Firm. He has been involved in several of their most impressive wins, including a $1B jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson over the faulty DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement devices, as well as a $2.11B judgment against J&J over its talcum powder that caused ovarian cancer.
In addition to practicing in Texas state and federal courts, Parker is also licensed in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 10th Circuit Courts, as well the U.S. Supreme Court.
Parker earned his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law. He is based in Houston, where he serves on the board of directors for the Houston Legal Aid Center. He is a Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyer.
Lawdragon: Will you describe your practice for our readers?
Kevin Parker: I work on legal issues as opposed to factual issues in a case. Each lawsuit has both what happened, the fact and how the law applies to the facts, and I work on that second part. My team and I handle all the appeals, motions on whether evidence is admitted or not, whether a court has jurisdiction or not. If there are issues of law, we look at the cases, we write briefs and motions for judges to read and decide matters related to the case that aren’t really the ultimate who did wrong but where the case is going to be heard or legal questions.
LD: Out of all the work you’ve done in your career, what would you say is the most interesting matter you’ve handled?
KP: It would have to be the talc case that Mark tried in 2018. My team and I were involved in the trial, writing and responding to motions, and then my team did the appellate brief, and then I got to argue the appeal in the Missouri appellate court. The court ended up upholding an award of more than $2B and that judgment was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
LD: What trends you are seeing in your practice?
KP: We are seeing more computer/technology cases. We are working on a lawsuit against Facebook and Google. I think technology and software is going to continue to create more litigation issues.
LD: Did you have mentors when you were first starting out?
KP: Yeah, there were two people. When I was in law school I had a moot court coach named Don Hunt – he was also Mark Lanier’s moot court coach. We went to the same law school. Don was a mentor to me and got me started feeling comfortable standing up in front of judges and talking about the law.
Then there was a partner at my first law firm in Amarillo who helped me get started in the appellate practice world named Kelly Utzinger. I’ve been here since 1994 so this was a long time ago but he didn’t really have time to do appellate cases so he started giving them to me because I had time and I determined that I really liked doing appeals.
LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer? Or, how do you think others see you?
KP: I think I am seen around here, and this applies to my whole team, as the lawyers for the lawyers. The law people. You would think a lawsuit is all about the law but really that’s just part of it. When a tricky legal issue comes up in a case, they come to me or someone on my team to help do the legal research, find the cases, write something to resolve that, to give advice on how to solve the legal side of this case, jurisdiction, duty or some other legal concept. We are the law guys and gals.
I tell our clerks when I interview them that it’s really important when you decide where you want to work that you find a place where you like the people and can trust them.
LD: There are many high-quality firms out there. What do you try to “sell” about your firm to potential recruits, peers or even the public – how is The Lanier Law Firm unique?
KP: I think what makes us unique is our culture. Mark Lanier is just a really nice man. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for years. He really wants to benefit and help others and share his talent and blessings with the people who work with him so that makes for a great culture. Teamwork is emphasized. The people on my team and this floor, we are all friends. All happy to see each other. We don’t undercut each other. There is not a lot of competition among the lawyers in our firm. We are focused on competing with the people we have cases against. I tell our clerks when I interview them that it’s really important when you decide where you want to work that you find a place where you like the people and can trust them.
The other thing that is more for clients is that our law firm is a plaintiff law firm. We are representing people who have been injured and many time plaintiff law firms don’t have an appellate section like ours does so they’re sometimes weaker on responding to legal motions. We are really strong on that. There have been times where a defendant will file a slew of motions and we will respond and they sort of drop them. Because they didn’t expect to get that kind of response. I think our team is a little unique to be so on top of the legal aspects of the case so when the defense tries to throw our case out we can kick them back in the teeth and go, “no, stop that.”
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?
KP: I love to be with my family. I have a wife, daughter, granddaughter and son. I’m involved in my church and I enjoy my faith with the people there. I enjoy reading. I like a good novel, history or biography.
LD: Do you have a favorite book or movie about the justice system?
KP: “My Cousin Vinny” is hard to beat for funny movies about the justice system. As far as books, “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham is really good.