Companies embroiled in complex business disputes have known for years that Dallas-based Bailey Brauer can provide enormous bang for the buck with talent that can take on any large law firm. In the area of competition and within the agricultural industry, in particular, name partner Clayton Bailey is among the nation’s most trusted and successful counsel. Bailey worked at Baker & McKenzie for more than a decade before setting up his litigation boutique with Alexander Brauer in 2013. In addition to advocating on both sides of the courtroom, Bailey diversifies his practice through pro bono cases that acknowledge the assistance he received in his formative years.

Lawdragon: Can you describe for our readers the mix of work you do within your practice?

Clayton Bailey: Approximately 80 percent of my docket has been tied one way or another to complex competition issues. Over the years, my work has trended toward involvement in the agribusiness community, particularly with the Obama and Biden administrations’ increased focus on the agriculture industry. Given that most agriculture-related work is performed in rural areas, my law practice is national in scope and I travel frequently.

LD: How did you first become interested in developing this type of practice?

CB: I was raised approximately 40 miles east of Los Angeles in Chino, Calif., which at the time was a rural area of Southern California. Consequently, I grew up around farmers and their families, learning about many of the numerous issues that they confront as operators and owners of farms and dairies.

LD: What drew you to this type of practice?

CB: I was drawn into competition-related work because of my love of the law, politics and economics. As an undergraduate student at Baylor University, I was a Foreign Service major and my studies focused heavily on economics. After graduation, I worked in the international trade section of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, which at the time was the world’s largest bank, before heading to Southern Methodist University School of Law. Now, as a practitioner focusing on competition issues, I have the daily opportunity to work on ever-changing issues that I find fascinating.

LD: Can you describe the work you are currently handling?

CB: Besides my work on competition-related issues, I enjoy working on other complex matters that provide me with an opportunity to be in the courtroom on a consistent basis. For instance, I currently serve as national Covid-19 litigation and appellate counsel for several of the world’s largest meat companies.

LD: Interesting. What are the challenges handling that work?

CB: The personal tragedies resulting from the pandemic require an especially deft legal touch, starting with the understanding that the families of meat and poultry processing plant workers who lost their lives deserve the utmost respect and dignity.

The cases that have arisen since the onset of the pandemic have sparked legal issues we have not seen before. Besides the element of causation playing a critical role in each case, there are several unique legal defenses to Covid-19 litigations that are typically not in play in other legal contexts.

The personal tragedies resulting from the pandemic require an especially deft legal touch. The families of meat and poultry processing plant workers who lost their lives deserve the utmost respect and dignity.

For example, after careful research and collaborating with other skilled lawyers, my colleagues and I developed numerous preemption and immunity arguments stemming from President Trump’s Executive Order issued in April 2020 under the Defense Production Act to ensure that meat and poultry processors continued operations during the pandemic. Based in part on these arguments specific to Covid-19 cases, the team at Bailey Brauer has successfully represented our clients in various states where Covid-19 exposure cases have been filed.

In fact, opposing counsel recently dismissed a lawsuit with prejudice within a day of our removal of a state court case to federal court based on our defense arguments tethered to President Trump’s Executive Order, as well as the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

LD: What is the potential impact of these cases?

CB: Although the initial Covid-19 exposure cases were pleaded as negligence claims, to effectively represent our clients we had to apply a much more complex approach to those claims, which make the plaintiffs’ claims even more difficult to prevail.

Besides the presidential executive order, our team relies on state statutes limiting liability for exposure to pandemic diseases while also applying preemption arguments to both remove cases from state to federal courts and as a defense to plaintiffs’ claims. In short, plaintiffs who sue our clients alleging direct or indirect exposure to the virus must confront numerous specific concepts that are difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

LD: Out of all the work you’ve done in your career, what would you say is the most gratifying matter you’ve handled?

CB: I would say it has been the pro bono work that I’ve had an opportunity to perform for various individuals over the last 25 years.

When I was 12 years old, my father passed away suddenly. Afterwards, a workers’ compensation claim was filed and a settlement was reached. A portion of the funds from that settlement were used to pay for my college education. I was the first kid in my immediate and extended family to go to a four-year college, let alone graduate with any sort of degree. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to be lawyer.

Although my work does not typically involve plaintiffs’ personal injury claims, when I get the opportunity to help someone in need, I try my best to take the case. For example, I’ve successfully filed and pursued social security benefits claims and personal injury lawsuits on behalf of families over the years. In these instances, I handle the cases free of charge.

LD: Out of the pro bono cases you’ve taken, what would you say is the most memorable you’ve handled?

CB: It has to be a settlement that I obtained a few years ago for a young man who was severely injured during a camp outing with his high school football team. He is a bright, good kid that needed help getting justice. The funds secured in that settlement were used to pay his tuition at a private university, and will also cover graduate school should he elect to pursue further studies. I was fortunate to help him. Moreover, that case allowed me to repay an obligation that I owed for what others did for me and my family.

LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now? 

CB: Depending on where I was in my career when someone asked what I’d do if I wasn’t a lawyer, the answer would certainly be different. Now, my answer is simple: be a fishing guide.  My wife and I recently purchased a beautiful home adjacent to a marsh in the South Carolina low county. It’s hard to beat the sight of the sun’s rays on the water and clouds when the sun is peeking over the eastern horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than teaching kids how to catch redfish and see the smile on their faces when they hook and land a fish.