The Animal Law Section Officers serve one-year terms. Elections are held at the section’s annual meeting in conjunction with the State Bar of Texas annual meeting in June. A nominating committee is formed and nominees are solicited approximately 60 days before the election. Anyone interested in running for office or a council member position may contact the chair of the animal law section.
There are eight council members who serve two-year terms. The council is the governing body of the section.
W. Michael Murray, Chair
Natalie Lynch, Vice Chair
Ashley Allen Carr, Secretary and Immediate Past Chair
Kristen Schlemmer, Treasurer
Council Members 2016-2018
|Place 1||Lara Tomlin
|Place 2||Randy Turner
|Place 3||Melissa Lesniak
|Place 4||Jenny Sigler
Council Members 2015-2017
|Place 5||Don Feare
|Place 6||Joel Hailey
|Place 7||Robyn Katz
|Place 8||Dawn Reveley
W. MICHAEL MURRAY commenced his career in the practice of law in 1975. He has been both in private practice and for several years was an in-house counsel for a large, publicly-traded company located in Austin, Texas. Mr. Murray currently has his own firm, Murray & Associates, PC, which is located in Austin, Texas and works mostly in the areas of business law, bankruptcy, probate and civil litigation. Mr. Murray has worked in the area of animal law, on a pro bono basis, almost since the beginning of his career. For many years he represented and was on the Board of Directors of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. – which, among other things, operates from an animal refuge in the Texas Hill Country, comprising almost 200 acres. Mr. Murray also represents Austin Dog Alliance a multi-functional animal organization involved with dogs. Mr. Murray received his law degree from Saint Mary’s University Law School (1975), and holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Tulane University (1969). He did graduate work in accounting at the University of Texas at San Antonio (1975-77). He is admitted to the practice of law in Texas, the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. States District Court, Western District Court of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
NATALIE LYNCH, former Chair of the Section, practices in Austin and represents small and medium sized business clients at the Lynch Law Firm. Natalie attended the University of Denver and Houston College of Law for law school and is licensed in Texas and Colorado. Natalie earned her undergraduate degree at the Universidad de Granada and Texas A&M University. Natalie sits in the welfare position on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s Breeder Advisory Board and also serves on the advisory committee of the Texas Humane Legislative Network.
ASHLEY ALLEN CARR, Secretary and former Chair of the Section, is an associate in the Austin office of Baker Botts, LLP, where she practices civil litigation at the trial and appellate levels. Ashley received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Rice University and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2012. While at Harvard, she served as Executive Editor of the Journal of Law and Gender. Ashley has a long-standing interest in animal law and has served as pro bono counsel for animal welfare and advocacy organizations. Ashley lives in Austin with her husband.
KRISTEN SCHLEMMER is an attorney at Irvine & Conner PLLC, where she represents individuals, citizen groups, and non-profit organizations in Texas state and federal courts. Most typically, she’s hired by plaintiffs interested in protecting Texas’ wildlife and natural spaces, but she also proudly represents plaintiffs and defendants alike in a range of other cases, including select animal welfare-related cases. For her work across the state, Kristen has been named a Texas Rising Star in 2016 and 2017, an award given out by Super Lawyers to 2.5% of attorneys each year. Kristen earned her Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School with high honors in 2010, where she helped lead Tulane’s chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. Kristen served on the Section’s council from 2012-2016 before becoming the Section’s Treasurer in 2016. Kristen also has acted as the Section’s Website Coordinator since 2011.
DON FEARE practices civil litigation and criminal defense in Arlington. He regularly handles a large volume of animal law cases, including: an action against a gun club to prevent the sport shooting of pigeons; an in-depth review of the fatal shooting of Jabari, the lowland gorilla at the Dallas Zoo; and a variety of dangerous dog seizure and dog bite related cases. Don also counsels numerous rescue organizations and has represented counties in animal cruelty seizure hearings involving large numbers of animals, both domestic and livestock; he served as the trial attorney in the largest animal cruelty seizure in history (27,000 animals). Don is a past member of the legislative committee of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. He is also a photographer and writes about animal law and waterfowl behavior and diseases and also has authored many papers on animal law and is a regular speaker at TXALS’s annual Institute. In addition, he speaks to civic and animal groups throughout the country. Don is also an adjunct professor of animal law at his alma mater Texas A&M University School of Law.
JOEL HAILEY has a private practice of probate law in San Antonio where he was born and raised. Hailey received his bachelor’s degree and his Juris Doctor from Baylor University. A longtime leader in the fight to save animals in the San Antonio area and other parts of the state, Hailey has served as Chair and Council Member of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and Vice-Chair of the State Bar Council of Chairs – and he’s been a board member of various organizations such as the Texas Humane Legislation Network, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, and Spay-Neuter Assistance Program. Hailey has been featured in television, radio and newspaper interviews on his efforts as an advocate for animals – and he has helped lead the battle for laws and ordinances to protect animals. He has continued to write articles and make presentations at the Animal Law Section institutes and other seminars.
ROBYN KATZ served as the Chair from 2014-2015. After graduating with Honors from the University of Michigan, Robyn received her Master’s of Education degree at the University of Texas in the field of Sports Management. Immediately after, she became the Director of Community Relations and Marketing for the Austin Toros. In 2005, Robyn began teaching at Mendez Middle School, where I taught 6th grade Science and coached girls’ soccer. With a passion for the law, Robyn decided to return to school for my law degree, and attended Texas Tech University School of Law. While at Texas Tech School of Law, she became very involved in the community, especially animal welfare. During law school, Robyn competed in national mock trial and legislative competitions at Harvard and George Washington University, and was a finalist three times. Robyn was also the founder of the Student Legal Defense Fund at Texas Tech School of Law.
After graduating, Robyn worked as a legal fellow for an animal welfare nonprofit in Washington, DC. Late 2010, she moved to San Antonio and worked as is an Assistant District Attorney for the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, in the Family Violence Division. In 2012, Robyn opened up her own law firm, the Katz Law Firm, and practices Family Law, Animal Law, and Wills, where 100% of her animal law practice is pro bono. Robyn has presented over 30 cases to juries, and over 500 cases to judges. Transitioning back to teaching, Robyn took a position with Austin ISD as a Criminal Justice teacher at Akins High School, where she will be teaching students about criminal law, court systems, and preparing them for legal careers. In her free time, she enjoy serving on the Board of the Hailey Foundation, volunteering with local animal shelters, working closely with Don’t Bully Me Rescue (a pit bull rescue), and spending time with her rescue mutt, Pedro.
MELISSA LESNIAK primarily practices animal law and criminal defense in San Antonio, Bexar County Texas. She received her undergraduate degree at Oakland University, Michigan. After working as a paralegal for five years, she attended St. Mary’s University School of Law earning her Juris Doctorate. She is the current president of the South Central Chapter of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. Ms. Lesniak founded the St. Mary’s School of Law Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter. She received the St. Mary’s University School of Law Student Marianist Service to Community Award for educating the community on various animal issues, including the legal issues that arise with guide dogs and instruction on the care of animals. Ms. Lesniak earned honorable mention in the First Annual State Bar of Texas Animal Law Section Student Writing Competition for her article “Commingling Canines and Other Unique Considerations of the Legal Rules of Professional Conduct in Cases Involving Animals.” She has spoken about animal law at various conferences and events. Ms. Lesniak is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association, and the San Antonio Bar Association. She has been named one of the top 100 attorneys in SA Magazine for 2013, and 2014.
DAWN REVELEY has practiced law for twenty years and is licensed in Texas and in Michigan. She has twelve years of complex commercial litigation experience. Dawn currently has her own practice, which she opened in October 1996. She practices business law and litigation representing small businesses, most of which are animal care providers. Dawn is one of the founding members of the Animal Law Section and has spoken nationally on animal & equine law issues and on the establishment of state bar animal law sections. She serves on the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and is active in animal-related businesses and hobbies. She has bred, trained and shown horses and golden retrievers for over thirty years.
JENNY SIGLER has been involved in animal rescue and welfare issues for many years. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and her juris doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2015. She graduated St. Mary’s in the top 15% of her class and was a member of Phi Delta Phi legal honor society. During her time at St. Mary’s, Jenny served as President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and won the State Bar Animal Law Section Student Writing Competition for her piece on ag-gag laws and factory farm animal abuse. She was a staff writer, and later Comments Editor, for The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Race & Social Justice, and received The Scholar’s Community Service Award for her volunteer work at the Animal Defense League. She also worked at the St. Mary’s Center for Legal & Social Justice in the Civil Justice Clinic, where she represented indigent clients pro bono, and she received Community Service and Pro Bono Service Awards from the law school. Jenny currently serves on the Board of The Hailey Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides education and awareness on animal welfare issues. She has fostered and found homes for countless loveable dogs since moving to San Antonio in 2009, and enjoys the company of three wonderful rescue dogs of her own at home.
LARA TOMLIN is an assistant district attorney in Denton County, Texas. She has been with the office since 2010, works in the appellate division, and handles animal-related cases, including all the seizure hearings for cruelly treated animals. Lara is board certified in Criminal Appellate Law. She graduated from the University of North Texas with her bachelor’s degree, and from Texas Tech University School of Law with her juris doctor. She is the chairman of the board of directors for the Denton Animal Support Foundation, an organization that supports the Denton Animal Shelter and raised funds for their new Linda McNatt Animal Adoption Center. She lives with her two rescue dogs, two hens, barn cat, and partner Daniel.
RANDY TURNER is a personal injury trial lawyer in Fort Worth who also practices animal law. He is board certified in personal injury trial law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a certified trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and an elected member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is past-president of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association, a founding member and past-chair of the Animal Law Section, past-president of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, and past-vice president of the Humane Society of North Texas. Randy represents rescue groups, humane organizations, animal rights activists, and others who help animals. He is a frequent lecturer and writer on animal law. He has worked as a volunteer with orangutan rehabilitation in Borneo, Indonesia, elephant conservation in Kenya, and black rhino conservation in Zimbabwe. Randy represented the dog owners in the Texas Supreme Court case Strickland v. Medlen where he argued that pet owners should be allowed to recover the sentimental value of companion animals that are wrongfully killed rather than just their market value.