Ms. Kneeland is an experienced trial lawyer whose practice includes employment litigation, commercial and business litigation, and defense of state and local governments, including universities. One of her key skills is to conduct an early assessment of a dispute to evaluate risk and determine whether her client’s goals are best served by crafting a solution outside of the courtroom or taking a case to trial. She continually updates her assessment as the facts develop, and creatively and proactively works to ensure the best resolution. Ms. Kneeland represents clients in the state courts in Texas and New York and federal courts across the country.
Ms. Kneeland has tried a variety of cases to verdict, including employment discrimination, commercial mortgage backed securities litigation, and the defense of public statutes and policies. Her clients have included large financial institutions, state and local governments, and small and medium businesses. Because of her hands on experience in taking a case from initial client interview through appeal, Ms. Kneeland works hard on pretrial motions that may dispose of a case short of trial, treating those motions as part of the necessary preparation for a successful trial.
Ms. Kneeland started her focus on litigation early, serving as a student lawyer in the Law Students in Court clinical program her entire third year of law school at the Georgetown University Law Center, which she got her first taste of life in a courtroom. But she did not neglect the more academic pursuits available to her, joining, publishing an article, and ultimately serving as a notes and comments editor on the Tax Lawyer, the joint ABA/Georgetown tax law publication.
After graduating for law school, Ms. Kneeland had the privilege of clerking for the Honorable Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C. That experience solidified her love of procedure, conflicts of law, and the courtroom. After her clerkship, Ms. Kneeland practiced in Manhattan, most notably with Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, before relocating to her new Texas home in 2002. After making partner, she decided to pursue public service, serving as an Assistant Attorney General in the General Litigation Division for the State of Texas and an Assistant City Attorney in General Litigation for the City of Austin.
- Defended state university’s admissions policies in trial court, developing factual record through affidavits and depositions, relied on by the trial court and, ultimately, United States Supreme Court in determining that university’s policies passed Constitutional muster.
- Obtained full jury defense verdict in gender and disability discrimination suit brought by female engineer.
- Obtained jury finding that employees were exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act due to their status as managerial employees.
- Defended property owner in Americans with Disabilities architectural barrier case.
- Won summary judgment on behalf of university accused of discriminating against physician in residency program on the basis of his race and national origin.
- Won multiple summary judgments on behalf of employers accused of retaliating against employees who under both whistleblower and other employment statutes.
- Defended and obtained favorable resolution of employment discrimination cases for large hospitals and medical schools.
- Asserted and tried claims for breaches of warranties in securitization documents on behalf of loan servicer against loan originator in protracted commercial backed securities litigation.
- Successfully asserted qualified immunity in pretrial proceedings to have claims against state and city employees dismissed.
- Defended and negotiated resolution on behalf of real estate broker sued by disgruntled purchaser for fraud and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
- Counseled and defended investment brokers through their transitions to new employer, including significant experience in defending temporary restraining orders/temporary injunctions.
- Successfully defended university employment decisions with respect to tenure track academics.
- Represented bankruptcy trustees in a number of adversary proceedings to marshal and preserve the assets of the bankrupt estate for the benefit of creditors.
Selected Presentations & Publications
- National Institute of Trial Advocacy: Trial Skills Faculty 2014; Advocate Designation.
- Editor, Responding to the Lawsuit and Post-Trial Motions in Employment Litigation Handbook, Second Edition (American Bar Association Section on Litigation) (2010).
- “Is Gender Bias a Problem for Practicing Women Litigators?,” The Judges’ Journal (Spring 2000), at 38-39.
- Note, State Taxation of On-Reservation Purchases by Non-Indians: Department of Taxation and Finance v. Milhelm Attea and Bros., 48 TAX LAW. 883 (Spring 1995).
Mishell is an avid reader, traveler, music fan, and amateur gourmet cook. When she’s not reading, cooking for friends or an out of town band, or on the road, she volunteers her time with several projects of the Austin Bar Foundation, including the Women’s Resource Fair, which provides medical, legal, and social services to low income, homeless, and abused women.