Officers and Council Members

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.

Due to the 2020 Covid pandemic the Animal Law section is making adjustments and elections have been delayed

There are eight council members who serve two-year terms. The council is the governing body of the section.

Officers 2019-2020

Chair-Robyn Katz
Vice Chair-Open
Secretary-Fran Ortiz
Treasurer-Kelle Jones

Council Members 2018-2020

Place 1 Lara Tomlin
Place 2 Open
Place 3 Eric Torberson
Place 4 Gina Joaquin

Council Members 2019-2021

Place 5 Open
Place 6 Open
San Antonio
Place 7 Amy Ganci
Place 8 Cynthia Smiley


Board Advisor Kathryn Murphy 05/31/2020
Board Advisor Kate Bihm 2020-2021
Board Advisor Emily Miller 2020-2021
Alt Board Advisor Yolanda Cortes Mares 05/31/2020





PictureOfMe (1)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.

Fran Ortiz

Kelle Jones



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 a former director and former chairman of the board of directors for the Denton Animal Support Foundation, an organization that supports the Denton Animal Shelter and raised funds for the Linda McNatt Animal Adoption Center. She lives with her two rescue dogs, four hens, barn cat, human children, and partner Daniel.

Personal injury and criminal defense lawyer Eric TorbersonERIC TORBERSON is a private practice personal injury and criminal defense attorney in the Austin area. He began developing a passion for animal law several years ago beginning mainly in defending dogs in dangerous dog hearings. His practice then expanded into filing lawsuits for ownership rights and personal injury litigation involving animals on the plaintiff and defense side. Eric believes animals deserve due process in court. Many times courts make a life or death decision based on little evidence. Eric received the Animal Advocacy Award for the Animal Law section of the State Bar of Texas in 2018. Eric graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2001. For more about Eric visit


Cynthia Smiley

Gina Joaquin

Amy Ganci