Frank N. Ikard, Jr., Shareholder
Frank Ikard specializes in fiduciary litigation and trust administration matters. He has been involved in some of the largest and most complex trust lawsuits brought in the State of Texas. He has extensive experience in both suing and defending trustees, executors and guardians. While he specializes in all forms of fiduciary litigation, he has been involved in more trust litigation matters than any other attorney in Texas.
Mr. Ikard is board certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law. He is a past chairman of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. He was a co-founder and past Chair of the Texas Academy of Trust and Estates Lawyers. He has worked for over four decades in legislative matters involving trusts and estates law. For example, he served on the committee that drafted the Texas Trust Code and was the person charged with obtaining its passage through the Texas Legislature. He monitored legislative activities for the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for approximately ten years.
He is a member of the American College of Trust and Estates Counsel and served for a number of years on its Fiduciary Litigation Committee. He is a past member of the Estate and Trust Litigation and Controversy Committee of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association.
He has been listed in Best Lawyers In America, sponsored by Woodward/White publishers, every year that it has been in existence. He has been named the “go to lawyer” in the State of Texas in the area of Trust and Estates Law by the Texas Lawyer in 2007. He has also been named a Texas Super Lawyer, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, as printed in Texas Monthly magazine, as well as an Austin Super Lawyer by Austin Monthly and a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent (by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.)
Mr. Ikard has written and spoken extensively in the areas of Probate and Trust Law and Fiduciary Litigation and has been the author of numerous sections of the Texas Trust Code.
- University of Texas, BA, 1965
- University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1968
- Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section, Estate and Trust Litigation and Controversy Committee, American Bar Association
- American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
- Austin Monthly’s Best Lawyers in Austin
- Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
- Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
- Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rating
- Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section, State Bar of Texas: Board Member, Chairman of the Section
- Texas Academy of Real Estate, Probate and Trust Lawyers: Co-founder, Board Member,
Chairman of the Board
- Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow (1991-present)
- Texas Super Lawyers, sponsored by Thomson Reuters
- The Best Lawyers in America, sponsored by Woodward/White publishers
- The Texas Lawyer Go-To Guide,
Top Notch Lawyer 2002
- Who’s Who in American Law, sponsored by Marquis
- The Texas Lawyer Go-To Guide, Top To-Go Lawyer in the State of Texas, Trust & Estate Law
- Chancellor’s Council, University of Texas
- Dean’s Round Table, University of Texas Law School
- Board Member, Greater Austin Crime Commission
- President and Board Member, Paramount Theatre for the Performing Arts
- Board Member, Travis County MHMR Board
- Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Jurisdiction in Texas, September 1, 2016
- Current Developments in Trust Litigation, May 2013
- Pitfalls in Trust Administration, May 2012
- Issues Related to Remote Beneficiaries, State Bar of Texas, 34th Annual Advanced Estate Planning & Probate Course, June 2010
- Exculpatory Clauses, State Bar of Texas, Trial of a Fiduciary Litigation Case, December 2009
- Trustees Duties to Disclose Information to Beneficiaries, June 2008
- Between the Deaths: Planning and Administrative Challenges, Advanced Estate Planning Course, Santa Fe, April 2008
- Utilizing Disclosure Rules to Obtain Discovery in Trust Litigation, Tarrant County Probate Litigation Seminar, Fort Worth, September 2008
- Role of Guardian Ad Litem in a Trust Case. Texas Bar CLE 13th Annual Advanced Estate Planning Strategies Course, 2007
- Trustee Duties and Fiduciary Litigation, Recent Developments In Trust Law. Dallas Bar Association, May 2006
- Fiduciary Liability and Litigation: Are you a Target? Texas Bankers Association Advanced Trust Forum, November 2005
- Recent Developments in Trust Litigation, Tri County Bar Association, January 2005
- Fiduciary Litigation, Dallas Estate Planning Council, September 2004
- Avoiding Fiduciary Litigation, Dallas Estate Planning Council, September 2004
- Fiduciary Litigation, Executors & Trustees, Fiduciary Litigation Seminar, May 2004
- Trust Litigation in Texas, State Bar of Texas Fiduciary Litigation, May 2004
- Negotiating Fee Contracts and Recovering Fees in Fiduciary Litigation, Advanced Estate Planning Strategies, April 2004
- Trust Litigation in Texas, Second Annual Probate Litigation Seminar, October 2003
- Attorney Fee Contracts for Planning and Litigation, Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Course, San Antonio, Texas, June 2003
- Negotiating Fee Contracts and Recovering Fees in Fiduciary Litigation, Travis County Bar Association, January 2003
- Banker’s Association Personal Trust Seminar, December 2002
- Negotiating Fee Contracts and Recovering Fees in Fiduciary Litigation, Dallas Bar Association, November 2002
- Discretionary Distributions, 26th Annual Estate Planning & Probate Course, 2002
- Trust Litigation in Texas, Tarrant County Probate Assoc. Litigation Seminar, 2002
- Specialty Drafting Regarding the Fiduciary, Travis County Bar Association, Probate and Estate Planning Seminar,
- Fiduciary Duties: What are They and How to Modify Them, Texas Banker’s Association Estate Administration Seminar, October 2000
- What Property Are You Administering?/Conducting Inventory/Making Consistent Valuation of Assets/Sections 177 and 706 Issues, Co-Author Alvin J. Golden, Wills, Estates, and Probate (A Satellite Production), State Bar of Texas, January 2000
Laurie Ratliff, Shareholder
Laurie Ratliff is a board certified civil appellate lawyer who represents clients in appellate matters and partners with trial counsel both within and outside the firm for presenting legal issues in motion practice, discovery disputes, summary judgments, and other trial court matters.
Drawing on her experience working for two courts of appeals, first as a briefing attorney with the Amarillo Court of Appeals, and later as a staff attorney with the Austin Court of Appeals, and serving as lead counsel in a variety of complex appeals, she provides clients with a unique and valuable perspective. Ms. Ratliff counsels clients from the decision to file an appeal, including the practical implications involved, through the development and implementation of sound appellate strategy in all aspects of the appeal.
Ms. Ratliff’s practice also includes representing beneficiaries, trustees, executors, and guardians in fiduciary litigation.
In addition to her appellate work and fiduciary litigation, Ms. Ratliff represents property owners in property tax matters in administrative proceedings, trials, and appeals.
A frequent speaker on court of appeals practice, trial procedure, and administrative case law, Ms. Ratliff has written a monthly column for the Austin Lawyer magazine for more than fifteen years, which comments on recent Austin Court of Appeals’ opinions. She also has co-authored an annual article for more than ten years, “Texas Supreme Court Update,” for The Appellate Advocate, a quarterly magazine published by the State Bar Appellate Section.
Ms. Ratliff has been selected as a Super Lawyer, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, every year since 2005. She is a shareholder with Ikard Ratliff P.C.
- Civil Appellate Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization
- Briefing Attorney – Seventh Court of Appeals, Amarillo (Justice John T. Boyd) (1992-1993)
- Staff Attorney – Third Court of Appeals, Austin
- Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D., 1992, Research Editor, Texas Tech Law Review
- University of Texas at Austin, B.B.A., 1989
Areas of Experience
Appellate and original proceedings
Ms. Ratliff represents individuals and companies in appellate matters in a variety of substantive law areas, including fiduciary litigation, trust, probate and guardianship, and family law. Ms. Ratliff handles all aspects of an appeal or an original proceeding. In addition, she also assists other counsel with appellate procedural issues, brief writing, and oral argument preparation. Ms. Ratliff also represents clients by filing amicus curiae briefs.
- In a case of first impression on the constitutionality of a tax exemption statute, submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of a statewide trade association. The court of appeals upheld the constitutionality of the statute and cited to and quoted from the amicus curiae brief in its analysis. Brazos County Appraisal Dist. v. Bryan-College Station regional Assoc. of Realtors, Inc., 419 S.W.3d 462 (Tex. App.—Waco 2013, pet. denied).
Trial court support
In the trial court, Ms. Ratliff partners with trial counsel for the presentation of legal issues in motion practice, summary judgments, discovery disputes, evidentiary issues, and other legal questions.
Ms. Ratliff represents property owners in property tax matters in administrative proceedings, trials, and appeals. She has represented owners of a variety of different properties, including oil and gas interests, business aircraft, airport cargo facilities, and special use properties with an emphasis on legal issues. Some of her representations include:
- In the leading case on taxability of crude oil, persuaded the court of appeals to construe the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution to hold that oil moving through a tank farm remains in interstate commerce and therefore is not subject to ad valorem taxation. This appellate decision controlled the outcome in numerous pending cases in which an appraisal districts sought to tax oil in transit through a pipeline system. Successfully persuaded the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to decline review of the appellate court. The decision solidifies the law in Texas that property moving in transit is not taxable. Midland Cent. Appraisal Dist. v. BP America Prod. Co., 282 S.W.3d 215 (Tex. App.–Eastland 2009, pet. denied), cert. denied, 563 U.S. 936 (2011).
- Persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to transfer 19 appeals pending in two courts of appeals to a third court of appeals. After transfer, successfully upheld the dismissal of 19 ad valorem taxing unit suits against numerous oil companies for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Jim Wells County v. El Paso Production Oil and Gas Co., 189 S.W.3d 861 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied).
- In a case of first impression, argued and obtained a writ of mandamus directing a trial court to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds a case brought by governmental entities for allegations of fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Persuaded the court of appeals that the Texas Tax Code provides the definitive remedies for such allegations, that the governmental entities failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and that the Tax Code is a pervasive regulatory scheme. In re ExxonMobil Corp., 153 S.W.3d 605 (Tex. App.–Amarillo 2004) (orig. proceeding).
Professional Activities, Community Involvement and Honors
- AV Peer Review Rating by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell
- Selected as a Super Lawyer, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, (2005-2017)
- Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition, Appellate, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, (2009)
- Super Lawyers, Business Edition, Appellate, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, (2011)
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal School – Board of Trustees (2016-19); Financial Development Committee member (2013-14; 2014-15); Co-Chair Annual Fund (2013-14; 2014-15)
- The Settlement Club (a non-profit organization that supports a residential care facility for abused children) Board of Directors (2008-15)
- Third Court of Appeals Pro Bono Committee member (2008- 2014)
- Appellate Section member, State Bar of Texas
- Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
- Past Chair, Travis County Bar Association Civil Appellate Section
Articles and Presentations
- “Case Law Update” UT 12th Annual Advanced Texas Administrative Law Seminar (September 2017)
- “Case Law Update” SBOT 29th Annual Advanced Administrative Law Course (June 2017)
- “Case Law Update” UT 11th Annual Advanced Texas Administrative Law Seminar (September 2016)
- “Case Law Update” SBOT 28th Annual Advanced Administrative Law Course (June 2016)
- “Case Law Update” UT 10th Annual Advanced Texas Administrative Law Seminar (August 2015)
“Case Law Update” SBOT 27th Annual Advanced Administrative Law Course (June 2015)
- “Trial Court Motions Practice: Drafting Persuasive Motions and Effective Advocacy at the Hearing” Corpus Christi Bar Association 2015 Advanced Civil Trial Seminar: “The Ultimate Trial Notebook: From Case Screening to Verdict” (March 2015)
- “Trial Court Motions Practice: Drafting Persuasive Motions and Effective Advocacy at the Hearing” SBOT 30th Annual Advanced Personal Injury Law Course (July – August 2014)
- “What Happens After the Jury Verdict?” SBOT 38th Annual Advanced Estate Planning & Probate Court (June 2014)
- “How to Draft Good Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” Texas Center for the Judiciary Winter Regional Conferences (Jan. 2014)
- “Motions for Summary Judgment” State Bar of Texas Ultimate Motions Practice (Sept. 2013)
- “Brought in on Appeal: Practical and Legal First Steps” State Bar of Texas 27th Annual Advanced Appellate Practice Course (Sept. 2013)
- “Transparency and its limits: Recent Court Pronouncements in the Area of Open Government” Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University 27th Annual Legal Seminar on Ad Valorem Taxation (August 2013)
- “Administrative Case Law Update,” State Bar of Texas 25th Annual Advanced Administrative Law Course (June 2013)
- “Conflict of laws,” State Bar of Texas 37th Annual Advanced Estate Planning & Probate Course (June 2013)
- “Winding down the trial gearing up for the appeal” SBOT 26th Annual Advanced Appellate Practice Course (Sept. 2012)
- “Administrative Case Law Update,” State Bar 24th Annual Advanced Administrative Law Course (June 2012)
- “Fiduciary Duty to Disclose: Informal demand for information or formal discovery: the debate on obtaining information from fiduciaries under their duty to disclose” State Bar of Texas Fiduciary Litigation: Beyond the Basics Course (December 2011)
- “Post Trial Preservation of Error: Practice, Procedure, & Strategy” State Bar Appellate Practice 101 (September 2011)
- “Winding down the trial, gearing up for appeal: Tips to get your case from the trial court to the court of appeals,” Austin Bar Association Fourth Friday CLE Series (June 24, 2011)
- “Property in transit: Implications of recent cases and strategy considerations” Texas Oil & Gas Association 2011 Property Tax Representatives Annual Conference (February 2011) (co-presenter)
- “Appealing Bench Trials” State Bar Appellate Practice 101 (September 2010)
- “Probate, Guardianship & Trust Statutes of Limitations Issues” State Bar 34th Annual Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Course (June 2010)
- “Statute of Limitations Issues in the Probate, Guardianship & Trust Context” THE ADVOCATE (Vol. 48 Fall 2009)
- “Appealing Bench Trials” State Bar Appellate Practice 101 (September 2009)
- “Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask: an open Q&A with Judicial Panel” (moderator) Austin Bar Association Bench bar (April 2009)
- “Oil Tank Farm and Gas Storage Cases on Appeal” Texas Oil & Gas Association 2009 Property Tax Representatives Annual Conference (February 2009) (co-presenter)
- “Case Law Update” Austin Bar Association Nuts & Bolts of Administrative Law Seminar (February 2009)
- “Practice Before the Courts of Appeals” State Bar Appellate Boot Camp (September 2008)
- “Jury Charge Issues” 31st Annual Advanced Civil Trial Course (Fall 2008)
- “Midland Tank Farm Appeal Update” Texas Oil & Gas Association 2008 Property Tax Representatives Annual Conference (February 2008) (co-presenter)
- “Not Just for Toxic Tort Cases: Strategic Use of Multidistrict Litigation Consolidation” 71Tex. Bar J. 98 (2008) (co-author with Lynne Liberato)
- “Preserving Issues in Post-Trial Motions” Austin Bar Association Civil Litigation Section Ultimate Trial Notebook Seminar (June 2007)
- “Shaking Out the New Multidistrict Litigation Rules and MDL Panel Decisions” Permian Basin Oil & Gas Law Weather Report (March 2007)
- “Appellate Practice Tips Every Lawyer Needs to Know” Austin Bar Association First Friday CLE Series (December 2006)
- “Multidistrict Litigation” 20th Annual Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course (September 2006)
- “Case Law Update” 7 TEX. TECH. ADMIN. L.J. 1 (Spring 2006) (co-author)
“Appeals Involving the Government” 19th Annual Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course (September 2005)
- “Case Law Update” Austin Bar Association Annual Advanced Administrative Law Seminar (2005, 2004, 2002)
- “Supreme Court Update” College of the State Bar Summer School (co-presenter) (July 2005)
- Ethics Seminar Class, “Lifestyle Issues” South Texas College of Law (co-presenter) (October 2004)
- “Third Court of Appeals Update” Travis County Bar Association Bench-Bar Conference (April 2004)
- Austin Lawyer: “Third Court of Appeals Update” – monthly article (2001-present)
- The Appellate Advocate: “Texas Supreme Court Update” – annual article (co-author) (2002-2011)
- State Bar of Texas 1992
- Supreme Court of the United States
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- United States District Court Northern District of Texas
Adam Herron, Associate
Adam Herron joined our team in 2014 as a graduate of Baylor University School of Law. At Baylor, Adam served as an Associate Editor for the Baylor Law Review where his article on police-interrogation tactics was published in the Baylor Law Review’s Winter 2013 edition.
During Baylor’s “Practice Court” program, Adam was one of eight students selected for Titanic, a four-day mock trial with Justice Jan Patterson presiding. In the case, Adam represented Madeleine Astor whose husband, the famed John Jacob Astor, IV, died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. After nine weeks of intensive preparation, very little sleep, and a four-day trial, hearing the jury’s verdict was the absolute apex of Adam’s Practice
For his undergraduate studies, Adam graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Golden Key, and the University Honors Program. Because he began attending college when he was just 16 years old, Adam received his B.A. at the age of 20.
Since joining our team, Adam has continued to focus on fiduciary litigation. He also expanded that focus by carving out a niche for himself in the areas of partnership litigation, contested guardianships, and guardianship administration.
- Baylor University School of Law, Waco, Texas, 2014, J.D.
Baylor Law Review, Published Article, Dean’s List
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2010, B.A. Magna Cum Laude,
Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key, University Honors Program,
Presidential Scholarship, Dean’s List
- Admitted to practice law in Texas, 2014
- Admitted to practice law in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, 2016
- Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition, Judge
- Travis County Probate Court, Attorney ad Litem
- State Bar of Texas, Real Estate Probate & Trust Law Section, Member
- Austin Young Lawyers Association, Member