2018 Award Winners

2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners 

Seven impressive SMU Dedman School of Law alumni will be recognized, on Wednesday, April 11 at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion, for their outstanding achievements, leadership, and service. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the law school bestows upon its alumni and friends. View past recipients or purchase tickets to attend.


Clarke Heidrick '75

Partner, McGinnis Lochridge
Charles O. Galvin Award for Extraordinary Service

Clarke Heidrick was born in Austin, Texas in 1949 to Bob and Mary Heidrick. He has a brother, Chris and sister, Ellen. Heidrick attended Austin public schools through junior high school and attended high school at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in philosophy.  Perhaps his most enjoyable activity at Vanderbilt was coaching the Gray YMCA tackle football team of 12 year olds, which was the first racially integrated team in the city.

Heidrick attended SMU School of Law from 1972 through 1975 and began his legal career at Thompson & Knight in Dallas where he worked in litigation. In 1977, he returned to Austin to join Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody where he established a business transactional practice for 41 years. Heidrick recently joined McGinnis Lochridge in Austin as a partner.

In addition to law practice, Clarke has engaged in a variety of civic activities, including work in the fields of economic development, healthcare, education, transportation and affordable housing.

Heidrick has been widely recognized in the Austin community, receiving Austinite of the Year in 2014 from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Pioneer Award, Best volunteer in Texas from the United Way of Texas, and the Byron Cox Community Service Award from Care Communities. He is highly committed to serving the Austin community.

Heidrick married Catherine Stewart in 1982 and they have four children, Robert (34), Margaret (33), Charles (30) and Kirkland (26).

T. Mark Kelly '81

Chairman, Vinson & Elkins LLP
Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice

T. Mark Kelly is Chairman of Vinson & Elkins LLP, a leading international law firm with nearly 700 lawyers. V&E has strong transactional, dispute resolution, and tax practices with offices in 15 cities across the globe, including its second largest office in Dallas. In addition to his role leading daily strategic operations, Kelly maintains an active practice concentrated on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and corporate governance for some of the firm’s largest clients.
Kelly has been recognized in numerous industry publications including as “Lawyer of the Year” in Corporate Law - Houston by The Best Lawyers in America (2014) and on the Directorship 100: Governance Professionals list by the National Association of Corporate Directors (2017). Chambers USA describes Kelly as “an incredible resource – a business leader in the community” having “exceptional negotiation skills and deal management.” Kelly’s clients include public and private companies, major investment banks, and venture capital firms. He also regularly advises boards of directors at Fortune 100 companies.
Kelly earned his B.B.A. in accounting magna cum laude in three years from Texas A&M University in 1978, and his J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1981.
At V&E, Kelly leads the firm’s Diversity Council and makes time for pro bono work. He is active in the community, serving as Board Chair of the Houston Museum of Natural Science and as a member of the Board of Visitors of MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Kelly is past President of the Houston Bar Association, and a past director of the State Bar of Texas.
Kelly is the father of three children: Kristin, Ryan, and Maddy.



Kathleen McElroy LaValle '82

Executive Director and President, Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service

Kathleen LaValle became executive director and president of Dallas CASA in July 2014 following three decades of practicing law, earning distinction in Chambers USA as a top tier counsel and preeminent practitioner. Today she leads the largest CASA program in Texas and one of the largest in the country. 

While a partner with Jackson Walker, LaValle headed the women’s initiative and served on the firm-wide diversity committee. LaValle’s past professional roles include Chair, Texas State Bar Antitrust & Business Litigation Section. She currently serves as a member of the Dallas County Child Welfare Board, the Diocesan Review Board, and the Mayor’s Taskforce on Poverty.

Prior to her current position, LaValle served on the Dallas CASA board of directors for 12 years, including a term as board chair. In the year following her transition to nonprofit, Dallas CASA’s board successfully completed a $37 million campaign to construct a new headquarters and expand program capacity. Last year Dallas CASA and its 1,313 volunteer advocates served 3,118 children in foster care, more than double the number of children the agency served six years ago. Now serving three out of four Dallas County children in foster care, Dallas CASA’s goal is to serve every child in need. 

Immediately following SMU Dedman School of Law graduation, LaValle clerked for the Hon. Robert Madden Hill. While a partner with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and later with Cohan, Simpson, Cowlishaw & Wulff, LaValle was an adjunct professor, teaching Legal Writing, Texas Pre-Trial Practice and Texas Trial and Appellate Practice. She received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. 

LaValle is a recipient of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Athena Award for professional achievement and community service. 


Jinsung Lee LL.M. '88

President, The Constitutional Court of Korea
Distinguished Global Alumni Award

Jinsung Lee was born in Korea’s largest port city Busan on June 29, 1956 as the first son among four children of a soldier, Youngbae Lee and a homemaker, Jungok Seo. He graduated from Kyunggi High School, the-then most prestigious school, in January 1974 and graduated magna cum laude from Seoul National University in February 1978.

After passing the bar exam in May 1977, President Lee had learned legal practices of trials, prosecutors and lawyers at the Judicial Research and Training Institute for two years before being admitted to practice law in August 1980.

Since appointed as a Judge in September 1983, he had handled civil, criminal, IP rights and insolvency cases and served as Chief Judge for four years before resigning in September 2012 to become a Justice at the Constitutional Court.

President Lee has tried to deliver judgements from a balanced perspective, with philanthropic views, throughout his career as a judge of ordinary courts and the President of the Constitutional Court. He is committed to creating a constitutional environment where the citizens can exercise their basic human rights under the umbrella of the Constitution without facing any unreasonable discrimination.

He serves as the representative of Korea for the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions. The AACC is composed of the highest courts in 16 Asian nations and was established to promote constitutional justice by realizing the universal constitutional spirit in the region. President Lee takes the lead in introducing Korea’s constitutional justice system and cases to Asia through the Association.

President Lee married Kieock Lee on April 27, 1980 and they have two sons, Dongjoon and Hyunjoon. He is a beloved grandfather of three granddaughters and a grandson.

President Lee often goes trekking in mountains across Korea on weekends and vacations. He sometimes enjoys trekking overseas, including Milford, New Zealand.


John K. Pierre '85

Chancellor, Southern University Law Center
Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Service

John K. Pierre has been on the law faculty of the Southern University Law Center since 1990. He served for a year as interim chancellor and in 2016, he was appointed chancellor of the law center. Before becoming head of the law center, Pierre served as vice chancellor since 2006, in charge of institutional accountability and the evening division.
Pierre has previous teaching experience as a visiting and adjunct professor at California State University, SMU Dedman School of Law, Loyola University Law School, Southern University College of Business, Saint Leo's College, Webster University, Louisiana State University, and Baton Rouge Community College.
He received the bachelor's degree in accounting from Southern University in 1980, a master's degree in tax accounting from Texas Tech University in 1982, and a juris doctor degree from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1985.
Pierre has published numerous articles on tax law, sales and contracts, real estate and commercial law, ranging from magazine features to legal journal and law review articles. He is a member of numerous state and national organizations, including the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Texas Bar Association.
Pierre has served as co-counsel in Davis v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, a landmark public school desegregation case that was ultimately settled in 2007, after more than 50 years of litigation. Pierre was co-counsel for the local Baton Rouge branch of the NAACP in the Davis case from 1998 to 2007. He served as co-counsel and the local counsel who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Hurricane Katrina evacuees in McWatters v. FEMA, the first post Katrina lawsuit filed as a public interest lawsuit on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina who were denied housing benefits and rights. Pierre most recently served as counsel, on behalf of the plaintiffs, in Calhoun v. Natchitoches Parish School Board, a school desegregation case that was resolved in 2017.


Hope C. Shimabuku '05

Director, Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office
Distinguished Alumni Award for Government Service

Hope Shimabuku is Director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She carries out the strategic direction of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, and is responsible for leading the Texas regional office. Shimabuku brings to the USPTO nearly two decades of experience as an engineer and intellectual property attorney. Most recently, Shimabuku was part of the Office of General Counsel at Xerox Corporation serving as Vice President and Corporate Counsel for Xerox Business SerĀ­vices, LLC. She also worked for BlackBerry Corporation and in private practice as an attorney. As an engineer, she worked for Procter & Gamble and Dell Computer Corporation.

Shimabuku currently sits on SMU Dedman School of Law’s Emerging Leader Board and is a member of the Barbara M.G. Lynn IP Inn of Court. She served as the first Asian American Chair of the State Bar of Texas Intellectual Property Section and as president of Dallas Asian American Bar Association. She was honored with the Champion of Diversity Award by DCEO and the Association of Corporate Counsel, and separately by the State Bar of Texas – Asian Pacific Interest Section. She was named as a Hero of Innovation by the Center for American and International Law, selected as a Dallas Business Journal “Top 40 Under Forty,” named Dallas Business Journal’s Corporate Counsel Rookie of the Year, and selected as one of DCEO’s “500 Most Powerful Business Leaders.”
Shimabuku received a B.S. in Mechanical EngiĀ­neering from the University of Texas at Austin, and graduated cum laude with a J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law. She is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston, Texas. She currently lives in Flower Mound, Texas, with her husband and two daughters.


Clay G. Small '75

Senior Vice President and Managing Attorney, PepsiCo, Inc. (ret.)
Distinguished Alumni Award for Corporate Service

Clay Small was born and raised in and around New York City. He and his wife, Ellen graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1972 where Small was a two-time All-American Soccer player and a draftee of the Dallas Tornado. Small graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1975 where he was an editor of the Journal of Air Law and Commerce and a member of the Barristers.

Following graduation, Small became an associate at White & Case on Wall Street. He joined PepsiCo, Inc. in 1981 as a staff attorney in Pepsi-Cola Co. where in 1984 he was promoted to vice president and division counsel. In that position, he negotiated numerous celebrity advertising and marketing agreements including Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Glen Frey, George Michael, Genesis, Rush and Andrew Lloyd Webber. (He has a story or two!)

In 1987, the Small family (then including Leah, Ryan and Molly) moved to Wichita, Kansas where Small served as general counsel of Pizza Hut, Inc. In 1990, he and his team negotiated Pizza Hut’s twenty-year Franchise Agreement. In 1996, he also became the general counsel of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

He was then named general counsel of Frito-Lay World-Wide in 1997. In that same year he led the team that, in the face of significant government antitrust opposition, navigated the purchase of Australia’s number one snack food producer by Frito-Lay, then the second largest competitor in the market.

In 2002, Small became a member of The Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group, Inc. Board of Directors. In 2003, he was named PepsiCo, Inc.’s Senior Vice President and Managing Attorney where he was responsible for the company’s global law department.

Small retired from PepsiCo, Inc. in 2012 and began teaching at SMU’s Cox School of Business. In addition to his role at the Cox School, he is also a visiting professor at VU University in Amsterdam and ESADE in Barcelona. Small is a member of the board of directors of Falcon Steel America, Inc. and Monster Moto, Inc. and a member of the Baylor Scott & White Foundation. His first novel, Heels Over Head, was published in 2017.

Clay and Ellen Small are expecting their ninth grandchild in May.