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Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, P.C.

Texas, United States
(P) 512-480-5600
(F) 512-478-1976

Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody is an Austin, Texas-based law firm with more than 60 attorneys focused on delivering results that make a positive difference for clients and the community.

Founded in 1946, the firm was established on the principles of hiring great people, practicing first-class law and focusing on accomplishing clients’ goals.

Our practices include Litigation, Corporate/Transactional, Real Estate, Labor & Employment, Creditors’ Remedies, Estate Planning, Tax, Technology, Intellectual Property and Environmental.

The firm hires only the best people, and is committed to finding effective and innovative legal strategies that will ensure that your needs are not only met, but exceeded.  Graves Dougherty’s attorneys include former state and federal prosecutors, a former U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General, a former general counsel to the Texas Governor and a former member of the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office.  

The 2013 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® — widely regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States— includes 34 attorneys from Graves Dougherty, more than any other firm in Austin.  The firm also has more listed lawyers in Best Lawyers in the fields of Administrative Law, Banking and Finance Law, Bankruptcy Litigation, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency & Reorganization, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Energy Law, Natural Resources Law, and Trusts & Estates, than any other firm in Austin, and more listed lawyers in Administrative/Regulatory Law and Water Law than any other firm in Texas.  Six Graves Dougherty attorneys are members of the prestigious American Law Institute.  Shareholder Mike McKetta was named in 2004 to the highly respected American Law Institute?American Bar Association Committee on Professional Education. In 2006, McKetta was asked to serve on the Executive Committee, which is the governing body of the American Law Institute. 

At Graves Dougherty, we recognize that our greatest achievements result from our clients’ willingness to entrust important matters to us. We take this commitment seriously, striving to serve our clients in the manner that best fits their needs.  We represent a wide range of clients including some of Texas’ largest companies and major national companies, as well as smaller businesses, organizations, individuals and families.

Graves Dougherty is committed to serving the community that has sustained its success for more than sixty years.  The firm serves through numerous pro bono and non profit activities and has been recognized as the Central Texas leader in pro bono service. Graves Dougherty works on many cases representing indigent clients from Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, and in 2008, the firm was honored by Volunteer Legal Services for its outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services.

At Graves Dougherty, we believe that the practice of law is both a profession and a vocation. We are dedicated to our clients, our community and to the highest principles of law and justice, and we strive to provide creative, timely, and effective advice and counsel.

Practice Areas



The largest section of our firm, our litigation lawyers bring broad and diverse experience to the representation of clients in all types of general litigation and complex business litigation.  We represent both plaintiffs and defendants before federal and state courts in Texas and other states, before all major Texas regulatory agencies, and before various domestic and international arbitration forums.  We handle matters ranging from complex litigation requiring large trial teams headed by bet-the-company lawyers to smaller disputes that individual litigators are eager to give the proper attention.  Our practice frequently includes one-of-a-kind matters in a wide variety of areas including employment, insurance, securities and investments, electric power, telephone and internet services, real estate, building construction, electronics, intellectual property, professional malpractice, special corporate investigations, government regulation, tax liability, and other areas.  The firm has an extensive appellate practice as well, with current cases in eight of the state's fourteen appellate districts, the Texas Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit.

Administrative & Regulatory Litigation

The firm is actively involved in cutting?edge issues stemming from competition in the electric and telecommunications markets, as well as current developments in areas including water, oil & gas, environmental issues and taxation.  We have a wide-ranging insurance regulatory litigation practice, with particular concentrations in homeowners', automobile and workers' compensation insurance, at the Texas Department of Insurance, the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and in court.  The firm has extensive experience in rulemakings, declaratory judgment actions, contested cases, and appeals of agency decisions as well as an active statewide trial and appellate insurance practice addressing extra-contractual, class actions, and specialty matters.


Banking & Finance

We represent lenders and borrowers in a variety of commercial finance and lending transactions. Our practice includes:  revolving, term and other commercial lending facilities; receivables financing, equipment leasing, sale and lease-back arrangements, letters of credit, technology/emerging growth company financing, real estate development financing, and multi-creditor facilities.

Creditors' Remedies

The Creditors' Remedies Practice Group at Graves Dougherty combines the expertise of bankruptcy practitioners, civil litigators and real estate foreclosure practitioners who have represented creditors, debtors, equity security holders and other parties in interest for more than 25 years, with the savvy of long-time banking, finance and securities lawyers who know the economic ups and downs of multiple industries.

Commercial and Technology Transactions

The firm represents developers, manufacturers, and service provider firms. We are experienced in structuring and negotiating enterprise-critical relationships with suppliers, distributors, sales representatives and customers, including major business process and information technology outsourcing agreements, technology and software licensing, e-commerce, co-development, co-marketing and OEM and product distribution agreements.

Corporate & Securities

We advise clients involved in the structuring, formation and operation of corporations, general and limited partnerships, limited liability companies and other business entities.  In addition, we help guide companies, investors, directors and founders through equity and debt offerings and other securities law matters.

Mergers & Acquisitions

We have negotiated merger and acquisition transactions involving companies in wide range of industries. We work with clients and their financial advisers through every stage of an acquisition, divestiture, reorganization or other extraordinary corporate event.

Tax Exempt/Non-Profit Organizations

An important part of our practice involves the representation of tax-exempt organizations, including not-for-profit hospitals, universities and foundations.

Employment Law

We negotiate and draft employment agreements, advise on and litigate workplace discrimination claims, provide advice on risk management and litigation prevention, and handle arbitration, trial court and appellate employment-related litigation.


The firm's entertainment lawyers structure transactions and negotiate agreements for the film, television, music, video games, print publication and art industries.  We represent a broad range of entertainment industry clients – from young musicians to internationally-known film studios.

Estate Planning, Tax & Probate

We have six attorneys who are Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  The firm’s attorneys represent several generations of experience and have expertise in a variety of areas, enabling us to closely match their specialized knowledge with the specific needs of our clients.

Federal, State and Local Tax Planning & Controversy

Our federal work includes taxation of C Corporations, S Corporations, partnerships and LLCs and their shareholders, partners and members, disregarded entities, choice of entity, Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges, Tax-Free Reorganizations, employment taxes, employee vs. independent contractor tax issues, representation of taxpayers in IRS audits, and tax-exempt organizations. We have experience in aspects of state and local tax planning and controversy, including: Texas Franchise or "Margin" Tax, property tax, sales & use taxes, representation before Appraisal Districts and Appraisal Review Boards, and representation before Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.  We provide advice and conduct due diligence related to corporate transactions, assist with voluntary disclosure agreements, structuring transactions, including qualification for tax exemptions, and advise clients regarding proposed legislation.

Internet and Information Security

Our practice includes libel, privacy and wiretapping laws applicable to computers, electronic communications, and the Internet.  Pete Kennedy served as lead counsel in the landmark electronic civil liberties case, Steve Jackson Games v. U.S. Secret Service.

Media, First Amendment and Public Access

Three Graves Dougherty lawyers are listed in Best Lawyers in America® as experts in First Amendment law.  Graves Dougherty lawyers have represented clients on issues affecting First Amendment rights, especially the law of libel, privacy, incitement and the public's right of access to courtrooms, government documents and meetings.  Our clients include daily newspapers, local and national broadcasters, magazines, book publishers, film studios and Internet publishers of all sorts.

Natural Resources: Oil, Gas & Water

The firm’s natural resources section deals with all aspects of the development of oil, gas and other minerals – leasing, production, regulation, environmental issues, taxation, and pipeline and other transportation – and also with water law issues and major water rights litigation.  The firm regularly represents independent energy companies and families with productive oil and gas acreage, and has been involved in numerous lawsuits with respect to natural resources as well as many significant decisions of the Texas Railroad Commission on oil and gas law.


Real Estate: Acquisition, Financing & Development

The firm's real estate attorneys represent residential and commercial developers from land acquisition through permitting and entitlements issues, construction contracting and sales. 

Chris Elliott

John McFarland
Managing Partner

Melissa Robles
Administrative Assistant

401 Congress Avenue
Suite 2200
Austin, TX 78701
Franchise disputes
Unfair competition/trade practices
Banking and finance
Asset based loans
Bankruptcy financing
Bridge loans
Commercial loans
Credit enhancements for bond financing
Enforcement of loan documentation
Equipment finance
Equity line of credit financing
Factoring of receivables
Lender liability
Letters of credit
Loan documentation
Loan workouts
Participation agreements
Secured loans
Technology and intellectual property financing
Bankruptcy/creditor's rights/insolvency
Accounts receivable collections
Adversary proceedings
Avoidance actions
Chapter 11 reorganizations
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases
Committee representation
Contested plan confirmations
Creditor representation
Creditor's litigation
Debtor in Possession Financing (DIP)
Debtor representation
Deficiency judgment actions
Discovery in aid of execution
Mechanics liens
Replevin of personal property
Representation of purchasers of assets in bankruptcy
Sheriff's sales
Alternate dispute resolution
Commercial development
Contracts and contract disputes
Errors & omissions claims
Federal and state regulation
Insurance coverage
Liability defense
Mechanics' liens
Workers compensation
Angel investments
Asset acquisitions and divestitures
Asset-based and cash flow lending transactions
Audit committee representation
Capitalization transactions
Convertible and hybrid securities
Corporate governance
D & O responsibilities
Debt and equity financings
Distribution arrangements
Entity formation/governance
Equity line of credit financings
Exit strategies
Family businesses
Fund formation
General corporate counsel
Government contracts
Hart-Scott-Rodino analysis and notification
IPO's/private offerings
Joint ventures and strategic alliances
Licensing, distribution and general contract matters
Mergers and acquisitions
Mezzanine financing
Preferred and common stock placements
Private equity/venture capital
Registration exemptions
Rescission offers
Seed capital transactions
Shareholder agreements
Software licensing
Spinoffs of subsidiaries and divisions
Start-up and emerging growth companies
Stock agreements
Stockholder/partner/LLC disputes
Succession issues
Taxable and tax-free exchanges, mergers and consolidations
Technology/life sciences
Venture capital
Book publishing
Literary rights acquisition
Publishing agreements
Copyright protection and transfer matters
Film & television
Real estate transactions and land use
Subsidiary rights and multi-media development
Conservation easements
Development entitlements
Drainage issues
Due diligence
Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance and enforcement
Ground and surface water
National Environmental Protection Act
US Army corps of engineers
Waterfront development
Estate Planning & Administration / Trusts
Family law
Complex asset division
Government relations
Administrative law
Association management
Coalition building - grassroots/grasstops
Constitutional law
Government immunity
Government access/open records
State and federal court
Permits, strategy and entitlements
Health care
Intellectual property
Anti-piracy litigation
Business methods and e-commerce
Confidentiality/ non-disclosure agreements
Copyright - advice, registration and litigation
Development agreements
Information technology
Internet and e-commerce
Internet privacy and information use policies and counseling
IP issues in business transactions
Lanham Act litigation
Licensing and technology, distribution agreements
Litigation (patent, trademark, trade secret litigation)
Maintenance/support agreements
Network hardware and software purchase and installation agreements
Non-compete covenants
Patent infringement defense
Piracy claims
Software agreements
Technology transactions
Theft of cable / satellite service
Trade dress
Trade secrets
Transfer and assignment
Warranty claims
Web-related contracts
International/International trade
U.S./Mexico business litigation
Labor, employment & employee benefits
Handbooks and policies
Workers compensation
Wrongful termination
Alternative dispute resolution
Class actions
Construction defects
Employment covenants
Insurance bad faith
Lender liability claims
Professional negligence
Retail premises liability
Securities arbitration and compliance
Will contests
Workers' compensation
Wrongful death
Business and corporate disputes
Class actions
Corporate governance and investigations
Deceptive trade practices
Defense of M&A and JV agreements
Eminent domain
Fidelity and surety
Fiduciary duty
Financial fraud
First amendment
Government access/open records
Insurance bad faith
International arbitration
Investigative and enforcement proceedings
Land use
Libel, slander and violation of privacy
Media and telecommunications
Non-compete litigation
Oil and gas
Open meeting/public records
Patent related antitrust abuse
Personal injury
Premises liability
Pro bono
Probate & trust litigation
Qui Tam
Real estate
Restraining orders
State action immunity
Title disputes/insurance
Contract disputes
Legal malpractice
U.S./Mexico business litigation
Unauthorized practice of law controversies
Water law litigation
Will contests
Wrongful death
Media & communications
Libel and slander
Privacy, wiretapping, freedom of information issues
Professional liability
Breach of fiduciary duty claims [corporate and ERISA]
Construction managers
Corporate directors & officers
Financial advisors
House & termite inspection companies
Insurance agents and brokers
Investment counselors
Real estate agents & brokers
Registered representatives
Securities brokers & dealers
Security guards
Title Insurers
Professional negligence
Securities violations
Public finance
Public Utilities
Gas & electric
Wastewater treatment
Real estate
Affordable and multifamily housing
HUD financing
Low-income housing
Condominiums, cooperatives and PUDs
Design/Build joint ventures
Developer representation
Equity investments
Utilities financing
Financing acquisition
Historic rehabilitation projects
Increment financings
Infrastructure development
Joint ventures
Land use
Landlord and tenant representation
Real estate
Landlord/tenant lien property disputes
Multiproperty financings
Multistate financings
Office buildings
Oil and gas permitting and exploration
Planned unit developments
Property valuation
Sale/Lease-back transactions
Deferred exchanges
Troubled properties
Water rights
Workouts, foreclosures, bankruptcies
Business acquisition planning
Charitable giving strategies
Corporate taxation
Corporate/business tax disputes
Gross receipts
Income tax planning
Entity selection and formation
Like-kind exchanges
Local tax
Nonprofit tax exempt organizations
Structure and entity formation
Tax exempt status
Tax free reorganization
Partnership taxation
Sales and Use
Ad valorem
Tax deferred real estate exchanges
Tax-Deferred Reorganizations
Business transactions
Civil tax controversies
Commercial loans, leases and workouts
Structuring of business transactions
Workers compensation
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