Liz grew up in San Angelo, Texas but got to France as soon as she could to start her decades-long interest and work in cross-border transactions and collaborations focused on intellectual property protection. Her French major at Sweet Briar College in Virginia included spending her junior year in France studying at the Université de Paris-IV (Sorbonne), l’Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po), and l’Alliance Française de Paris. The international bent that would mark her law practice decades later included a return to Texas to complete a masters at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. There she maintained a 4.0, while (i) trying to speak Spanish in Peruvian literature classes without a French accent and (ii) learning through an ill-advised stint of intramural soccer with some Argentinians in her program that this sport was not a good way to ensure that she completed her degree without breaking a leg. After completing her masters with all limbs intact, she attended St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio.
After law school Liz moved to Houston to clerk for a judge at one of the state’s largest appellate courts, learning how to quickly synthesize in writing big legal issues. With that experience she joined the appellate practice group of Andrews Kurth LLP in Houston, Texas. Her practice included briefing in state and federal appellate courts—including a United States Supreme Court Petition for Certiorari on the riveting subject of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act—and defensive maneuvering in litigation for optimal outcomes on post-judgment motions and appeal. Appellate lawyers see a breadth of subject matter. For Liz’s practice, that meant being a quick study in medical malpractice, product liability, bankruptcy, and corporate formation and governance issues. Exhaustive strategic briefing on alter ego and Texas LLC law would carry the day in a patent litigation case involving Texas contract law, and set the foundation for her practice now, managing the corporate side of intellectual property protection.
After she made partner at Andrews Kurth, she was able to do what many Houston residents only wish they could do: move to Austin. Liz moved to the Austin office of Andrews Kurth, where she would take what she swore would be the last test ever—the board certification exam in civil appellate law. She has been board-certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2006.
In 2009 Liz left Andrews Kurth to work with a firm client and learn patent litigation from the inside out, running a critical motion practice for several patent assertion entities in litigation scenarios and appeals. This experience was a crash course in intellectual property monetization strategies from a practical business perspective that few attorneys in intellectual property have. Around this time she began developing her network in legal and financial communities in Paris, including looking for patent portfolios and partnerships for French technology.
When she learned that Austin had a sister city in France—a town in the Loire Valley called Angers—she set out to see for herself what the Austin-Angers relationship could mean for Austin’s economic development. Liz’s research-gathering trips since then have included giving a talk in Paris about Austin as startup hub and the value of IP in the United States, and meetings with, for example, the European Union’s agency for plant protection located in Angers, the regional business cluster in agri-business, and Angers’ university leaders.
With activities increasing between Austin and France, the Consul General of France in Houston approached Liz in 2014 to form a chamber of commerce. The French American Business Council of Austin (“FABCA”) launched in June 2014 with a reception featuring the Mayor of Austin and the Consul General of France—and Mayor Christophe Béchu of Angers (by video). Liz is President of the Board of Directors of FABCA.
Recognizing Austin’s increasing global connections, Liz has focused on recognizing specific needs that foreign companies have adjusting to the different business legal culture of the US—and Texas. Liz’s commitment to serving an international community also is seen in her work with Austin International School, a unique learning experience through tri-lingual immersion (French, Spanish, English), where she is vice-chair of the Board of Directors.
Liz is very proud that even though her college-bound son Cameron has had two trips to France with her and has no interest in France, beyond the food and the French transportation system, he shares her love for French carbs, and one in particular, available from one particular bakery in Paris: Poilâne.
Liz occasionally has this 4-pound miche shipped from France to her doorstep via Poilâne’s on-line store. Liz’s obsession with this bread, as far back as her student days in Paris, resulted in so many Tweets that she received a thank-you email in 2014 from the founder’s daughter and now CEO of the company, Apollonia Poilâne. Apollonia also invited her to visit the ovens on her next trip to Paris, an invitation that Liz eagerly accepted. After the tour, the bakery sent Liz home with a gratis miche, which her son still just refers to as “that really good bread from Paris.”
When Liz is not following French tech news or bemoaning the changing landscape of US patent laws and policy, she may be found catching up on a weeks-old NY Times Sunday paper, listening to jazz, or running off an overly large breakfast of buttered Poilâne toast.
Austin International School: Vice-Chair, Board of Directors
French American Business Council of Austin, Inc.: Founding Director, President, Board of Directors