Board of Trustees



Email Phil

Phil Haines is a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. Phil has a corporate and securities practice with a focus on public and private offerings, acquisitions and divestitures and has represented clients in connection with more than 85 public and private offerings of debt, equity and preferred securities with a combined transaction value in excess of $30 billion, and more than 20 acquisitions or divestitures to consummation with a combined deal value in excess of $12 billion. In addition to serving as Chair of HYLF, Phil is a...

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Email Whitney

Whitney Larkin is a litigation associate at Clark, Love & Hutson, GP, with a focus on mass tort litigation and commercial litigation.

A native Houstonian, Whitney received her undergraduate degree from University of Houston and law degree from University of Houston Law Center.

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Immediate Past Chair

Email Cristina

Cristina K. Lunders is a Senior Counsel, Regulatory Compliance at BP focusing on anti-bribery and anti-money-laundering efforts.

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Email Veronica

Veronica a corporate transactional associate at Stibbs & Co. She is thrilled to serve as a Director on HYLA's Board of Directors for a second year, and as Chair of HYLA's Arts and Entertainment Committee. She and A&E are working on some exciting things for the 2016-17 year, so keep an eye out! Veronica is a native Houstonian and a graduate of Duchesne Academy, Southwestern University, and Houston College of Law (formerly South Texas College of Law). When she’s not lawyering, Veronica enjoys...





Email Kristen

Kristen Bates is an associate attorney at The Strong Firm, P.C. in The Woodlands, Texas. Kristen has participated in the Adopt An Angel program since her beginning her practice in 2010. She has served on the Adopt An Angel committee since 2015, including holding a co-chair position for the past two years and serving as the HYLF Chair in 2017-2018. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation and the Houston Young Lawyers Association in a program that brings joy to the lives of...

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Email Michael

As an attorney at Perdue & Kidd, Michael Clinton represents plaintiffs in personal injury claims as well as pharmaceutical and medical device litigation across the country. Michael earned his B.B.A. in Financial Consulting from Southern Methodist University while also performing as a drummer in SMU’s Mustang Band (a.k.a. “The Best Dressed Band In The Land”). Michael then earned his J.D. from Baylor Law School while competing in multiple interscholastic advocacy competitions. Before leaving Waco, Michael worked at...


Email Akilah

Akilah is an associate in the Houston office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, and is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment group. Akilah currently serves as the Co-Chair of HYLA’s Diversity Committee and is a Trustee of the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation. Akilah was a member of the 2017 class of HYLA’s Leadership Academy, which raised over $12,500 to benefit the HAY Center. Akilah graduated from Baylor Law School in 2012 and received her Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster,...

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Email Andrew

Andrew Edelman is a litigation associate at Winstead PC. He represents clients in various state and federal civil trial and appellate matters, including commercial litigation, energy litigation, civil rights litigation, personal injury litigation, and insurance coverage disputes. Prior to entering the practice of law, Andrew interned for U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western District of Texas.


Email Alex

Alex is actively involved in the Houston Bar Association, and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, cum laude.

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Kristy Gabrielova is a long time member of the Houston Young Lawyers Association and the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation. She has served on the Board of HYLA from 2012 to 2016, acting as the Treasurer and Secretary in the more recent years on the Executive Committee. Prior to that, between 2008 and 2012, Kristy chaired the Arts & Entertainment Committee, which puts many HYLA functions such as the yearly favorite, Evening with the Judiciary. On HYLF side, Kristy has been involved with both Adopt an Angel program, helping deliver gifts to underprivileged children in Houston area...

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Email Tara

Tara Grigg Garlinghouse is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Foster Care Advocacy Center, a nonprofit in Houston that provides multidisciplinary legal advocacy for children and parents involved with the child welfare system. Prior to that, she was a Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow in the Houston office of Disability Rights Texas, providing direct representation to foster children with disabilities in state child welfare proceedings and ancillary proceedings, such as special education litigation and Medicaid appeals. She has...

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Email Leah

Leah Buenik is a commercial litigation associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. Leah has been a HYLA member since 2013, serving on the HYLA Board from 2014-2016. Leah graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in 2016, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. When not working, Leah enjoys running and biking the Heights Bike Trail, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.

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Email Kelley

Kelley Clark is a litigation associate at Gray Reed & McGraw LLP, focusing on energy and commercial disputes and appellate matters. Kelley also serves on the Board of Directors for the Houston Young Lawyers Association and completed the HYLA Leadership Academy in 2016. Kelley is a HYLF Fellow and served as the HYLF Law Day Luncheon Co-Chair from 2015-2017. Through her involvement with the Junior League of Houston, Kelley regularly volunteers at the Children's Museum of Houston. She received her B.A. and B.B.A. from University...

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Email Alex

Alex is a partner at Beck Redden LLP. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial litigation, business disputes, employment, trade secret, products liability, personal injury, and professional liability matters. Alex represents clients in the energy, legal, financial, and real estate sectors, among many others. He also maintains a strong commitment to pro bono legal work and is actively involved in community service activities across Houston. Before joining the...

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Email Sherry

Sherry Hill Rodriguez is an estate planning and probate attorney at Humble Rodriguez, PLLC. She has served on the HYLF Adopt-an-Angel committee since 2015, and has been a co-chair since 2016. She is a graduate of the Baylor University School of Law and the University of Texas at Austin.


Email Darren

Darren Ticer has been licensed to practice in Texas since 2009. Works at Bush+Ramirez LLC which focuses on litigation in insurance defense, commercial, construction and general liability. His areas of concentration are product liability, personal injury, property damage, contract disputes, and construction defects. He obtained his J.D. from South Texas College of Law in 2008. He obtained his B.A. from the University of Houston in 1999. He has chaired the annual Houston Young Lawyers Foundation 5-K Fun Run/Walk for six...

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Email Samantha

Samantha Torres is an Associate at Deans & Lyons, LLP. She is an HYLF Fellow and previously served as a Director on HYLA’s Board for two years. Sam is an active HYLA member who has also served as the Chair of the CLE and Marking Committees, assists the Diversity and A&E Committees, created the HYLA Running Club, and completed HYLA’s Leadership Academy. She is passionate about empowering HYLA members to learn, lead, network, and serve through quality programming, networking events, and leadership...

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Email Zahra

Zahra Usmani is an energy associate at Jones Day. Her practice focuses on domestic and international transactions in the energy industry, including M&A, project development, joint ventures, and strategic transactions. Her experience includes representing public and private energy companies, strategic investors, and private equity firms in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, securities offerings, securities compliance issues, and general corporate matters.

Zahra is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law...

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Email Jim

Jim Zucker is in his second year as a HYLF trustee. Jim is a partner at litigation boutique Yetter Coleman. As a trial attorney, Jim focuses on complex commercial litigation, namely contract disputes, business torts, and antitrust. Jim serves all sorts of plaintiffs and defendants, particularly in the energy sector, but also in healthcare and finance. Jim clerked for Judge Smith on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law. Prior to law school, he taught elementary school...