Melanie Cogburn

ABOUT Melanie Cogburn

Of Counsel

About

Melanie has over 18 years’ experience as a trial attorney, helping clients resolve their business disputes informally, as well as in the court system and in the arbitration process. She got her start as a staff attorney for the Honorable Judge John Dietz at the Travis County District Courthouse, where for over two and half years she watched countless hearings and jury trials from voir dire to verdict; an experience in understanding how real courts resolve real disputes. If there is one motto she believes that captures the litigation experience, it’s “you never know what’s going to happen next.” While this makes trial work thrilling at times, it can actually be very frustrating for clients who are in their first lawsuit. However, Melanie strives to educate her client’s about the entire litigation process so that they understand the process and learn about how decisions are actually made by the judges and juries as the claims proceed to trail so they are able to make effective business decisions.

After working at the courthouse, she worked for seven years with Taylor & Dunham, LLP., a litigation boutique specializing in both small and large business disputes. She was a member of the trial team in Telepus, Inc. v. Avantel, a case that resulted in the highest jury verdict (over 19 million dollars) in Judge’s Justice’s court. She focused her practice on providing the silver bullet case research and briefing that got results for the firms’ clients and participated in numerous jury trials and arbitration proceedings. Summary Judgment practice is one of Melanie’s key specialties. For her defendant clients, this means getting key rulings from the trial court before trial that will narrow the issues that are ultimately decided by the jury, or possibly striking the plaintiff’s lawsuit altogether so that it is dismissed. For her plaintiff clients, this means ensuring that defendant’s motion does not prevail, and effectively arguing to the court why the claims should proceed to trial and why there is a fact issue that makes summary judgment inappropriate.

For the last five years, she was senior counsel with MWR Legal, handling litigation in state and federal courts, including handling several cases as lead counsel. Areas included breach of contract, fiduciary litigation, real estate disputes related to nonpayment of contractors and mechanic’s liens, and intellectual property litigation. She also represented clients in bankruptcy, advised businesses on their various obligations under federal laws such as FMLA and overtime regulations, and drafted employee manuals, and assited in corporate formation and securities work related to critical capital raises for growing businesses.

Successfully defended a sixth street bar from efforts to evict them based upon myriad disputes with the landlord who held the master lease on the property. Case was tried before JP court and then appealed to Judge Phillips in a two-day bench trial. Judge Phillips ruled in her client’s favor and held clients had the right to maintain possession on the property.

Represented an adult content publisher against copyright infringement claims and other claims when a photographer’s work was stolen and used in an advertisement placed by a third party in his magazine. Obtained a key summary judgment ruling striking Plaintiff’s claims under VARA (The Visual Artist Rights Act). Case settled favorable for client before trial.

Represented a contractor who was never paid for extensive work in a multi-phase subdivision development, when the developer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Austin, Texas. Defended client in adversary proceedings seeking to strike contractor’s claims as secured creditor based upon whether a mechanics liens was perfected. Obtained favorable settlement for client, negotiating with several stakeholders, including the lawyers for the Debtor in Possession and the Trustees for the Litigation Trust and Unsecured Creditor’s Committee.

  • Smith College 1992, A.B. in Women’s Studies, cum laude
  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1996, with honors Dean’s Achievement Award-highest grade in class for federal civil procedure Deans Achievement Award-highest grade in class for advanced federal procedure
  • Trained Mediator, 2006 Family Law Advanced Mediation Course, 2012
  • Texas State Bar, 1996 Admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Admitted to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Born on the border in Eagle Pass, Texas and raised in San Antonio and Houston before attending college. Has lived in Austin since 1992.