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Law Alumni Association announces 2012 distinguished alumni award recipients

The University of Texas Law Alumni Association announced the recipients of its 2012 distinguished alumni awards. Daniel C. Arnold, ’53, received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Nina Cortell, ’76, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service; The Honorable Emilio M. Garza, ’76 received the Honorary Order of the Coif; and Gilbert I. "Buddy" Low, ’60, received the Outstanding Alumnus Award. The awards ceremony was held on April 20.

About the recipients

Thomas M. Susman
Gilbert I. "Buddy" Low

Gilbert I. "Buddy" Low

Outstanding Alumnus Award

The Outstanding Alumnus Award honors a graduate who has made outstanding contributions not only to the legal profession, but to society as a whole.

Gilbert I. "Buddy" Low is a nationally recognized trial lawyer. He currently handles major litigation involving a wide range of issues.

Although Buddy has emphasized personal injury work in his practice, there is little in the litigation arena that he has not done. Buddy has served as counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants. His practice has included litigation involving insurance coverage, antitrust, patents, trademarks, criminal RICO violations, pollution issues, class actions, contract disputes, and general business disputes.

He is listed in Best Lawyers in America as one of the best trial lawyers in the country. His peers voted him both best defense lawyer and best plaintiff's lawyer in Jefferson County. Buddy was named as one of the top 100 lawyers in the state in the Texas Monthly listings of "Texas Super Lawyers 2003" and "Texas Super Lawyers 2004."

He graduated from Stephen F. Austin College in 1954 and received the school's "Hall of Fame" Award in 1994. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1960. While attending the University of Texas School of Law, he was a Comment Editor on the Texas Law Review, a member of Phi Alpha Delta, and a member of the Order of the Coif.

Buddy was Chairman of the Texas Supreme Court Professional Ethics Committee for over 25 years and is currently Vice-Chairman of the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee. He is a former President of the Jefferson County Bar Association and is a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates.


Wayne A. Reaud
The Honorable Emilio M. Garza

The Honorable Emilio M. Garza

Honorary Order of the Coif

This award is chosen and presented by the Dean, acknowledging an alumnus of exceptional merit and extraordinary achievement in his or her career.

The Honorable Emilio M. Garza, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is a 1976 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.  Judge Garza earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Government and International Studies from Notre Dame University, and then served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, first on active duty before entering law school, and then in the reserve until 1979.

After law school, Judge Garza practiced with the law firm of Clemens, Spencer, Welmaker & Finck in San Antonio.  He was a state district judge in Bexar County for a year before being nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan.  Following his Senate confirmation in 1988, Judge Garza became a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas. President George H. W. Bush nominated, and the Senate confirmed, Judge Garza for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1991.

Judge Garza is a well-known and highly-respected member of the federal judiciary.  He has been mentioned more than once as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.


The Honorable Sam Sparks
Daniel C. Arnold

Daniel C. Arnold

Lifetime Achievement Award

This award honors an alumnus who has had a distinguished legal career and who has brought honor to the University of Texas School of Law through his or her service to the legal profession and to society. With this award, the Law Alumni Association recognizes that alumnus who epitomizes the highest goals and traditions of the profession: diligence, discernment, integrity, and a commitment to the betterment of our civic life.

Daniel C. Arnold is a native Houstonian who received both his business administration and law degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.  He returned to Houston to practice law with Vinson & Elkins from 1953 to 1983, where he became a Senior Partner and a member of the Executive and Management Committees.  In 1983 he moved to First City Bancorporation where he served as its President, and later its Chairman, until 1988.  In 1989 he became Chairman and President of Farm & Home Financial Corporation where he served until 1993. 

In 1991 Mr. Arnold was appointed to the Thrift Institution Advisory Council to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC, and served as its Chairman in 1993.  Since then he has maintained his private office.

During his career, Mr. Arnold has also focused efforts towards various aspects of community involvement.  He became a member of the Board of Trustees of Baylor College of Medicine in 1969, where he served a five year term as Chairman.  He served as the first Chairman of the Harris County Hospital District, and also as Chairman of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority, the American Red Cross Houston-Harris County Chapter, and as a Board member of Texas Medical Center.  In recent years he has been active in the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the Julia Ideson Library for the City of Houston.

Mr. Arnold and his wife Beverly have three children, Alice Helms, Susan Martin and Steven Arnold, and seven grandchildren.


Mike A. Myers
Nina Cortell

Nina Cortell

Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service

Established by the Alumni Association in 1988, this award honors a graduate who brings conspicuous credit to the legal profession by exemplary service. The award recognizes superior educators, outstanding lawyers in government service, or those who have had a significant role as community volunteers.

Nina Cortell, a 1976 graduate, counts as one of her proudest achievements her work with a group of fellow women alumni in founding the Center for Women in Law at the Law School.  The Center, which was launched in 2009 with a summit featuring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is devoted to promoting the success of the entire spectrum of women in law, from first-year law students to the most experienced attorneys.  Ms. Cortell continues her work for the Center by serving on its executive committee.

Ms. Cortell has been active in other areas of the Law School, including her service as President of the Law Alumni Association and her upcoming role as President of the Texas Law Review Association.  Outside of the Law School, Ms. Cortell has served as President of the Patrick Higginbotham Inn of Court, Chair of the State Bar Task Force on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Women and Minorities in Law Firms and Corporations, Trustee of the Center for American and International Law, and Trustee of the Dallas Bar Foundation.

Ms. Cortell is ranked by numerous publications as one of the top appellate lawyers in Texas, and, in 2009, was named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the Dallas Bar Association.  During the course of her 36-year career at Haynes and Boone, LLP, she has represented corporations, individuals and public entities in appeals that have put her at the forefront of Texas appellate practice.  She frequently speaks on appellate topics and has been asked by the federal and state judiciary to assist with issues related to judicial process, including her work on the prestigious Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee.

Ms. Cortell is married to Dr. Robert L. Fine, who is the Clinical Director of Medical Ethics and Palliative Care for Baylor Healthcare System, and they are the proud parents of three daughters:  Dr. Lauren Fine, who is an emergency medicine doctor and singer/songwriter; Rachel Fine, who is a personal trainer and health consultant; and Becca Fine, who will graduate this year from Columbia University.