SMU Dedman Law to recognize six distinguished alumni of national and international acclaim

Six esteemed legal professionals, whose experience ranges from representing the Mark Cuban Companies to serving on the highest court of Uganda, will be honored when SMU Dedman School of Law’s 30th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards April 6 at the Belo Mansion & Pavilion in Dallas.

DALLAS (SMU) – Six esteemed legal professionals, whose experience ranges from representing the Mark Cuban Companies to serving on the highest court of Uganda, will be honored when SMU Dedman School of Law’s 30th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at the Belo Mansion & Pavilion in Dallas.

A longstanding law school tradition, the invitation-only Distinguished Alumni Awards event feature the highest and most prestigious awards bestowed by Dedman Law. An alumni committee selects recipients who are standouts in their respective fields, and an honorary award is given to recognize exceptional service to the law school. This year’s awards and recipients are:

Distinguished Alumni Award for Corporate Service

Robert Scott Hart Robert Scott Hart ’87
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary,
Mark Cuban Companies

Robert Hart is senior executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Mark Cuban Companies, a collection of over 100 companies that include the Dallas Mavericks.     

The Lincoln, R. I., native attended Boston University where he earned a joint B.A. and M.A. degree in political science, graduating magna cum laude with the Dean’s Distinction Award in 1983. While at BU, he studied abroad at the University of Copenhagen in 1981 and traveled extensively to countries including the former Soviet Union. 

In 1983, Hart moved to Dallas to attend SMU where he obtained a joint J.D./M.B.A. degree. While at SMU, and under the supervision of Professors Joe McKnight and Peter Winship, he attended SMU’s summer program at University College, Oxford University.

After graduation, worked as a paid extern for a Brussels law firm before beginning full-time work with the Dallas office of what is now Bracewell. His first client as a first-year attorney was Mark Cuban, whom he continued to represent on various projects until 2000, when he began working with Mark Cuban Companies exclusively.

In 2013, Hart was promoted to senior executive vice president responsible for oversight of the family operating company, overseeing various realms involving
legal, finance, tax, human resources, aviation, real estate and venture capital.

Some of the projects Hart has worked on include the acquisition of the Dallas Mavericks, oversight of the construction of American Airlines Center, formation
of AXS TV Network, purchase of the Landmark/Magnolia Theatre chains, defending Cuban in a civil lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and “Shark Tank” television show-related matters.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice

Forrest Smith Forrest Smith J.D. ’57, LL.M. ’63
Senior Partner, Friedman & Feiger

Forrest Smith realized early in life that his calling was to “follow his heart” and serve his fellow man. Becoming a lawyer would help realize that dream. During his 65-year career, Smith found ways to solve complex legal as well as community-related issues.

During 31 years with Mobil Oil Corporation, he prosecuted cases in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He handled more than 200 labor arbitrations with Mobil and more than 300 mediations in private practice. He relished his role as an adjunct professor at SMU Dedman School of Law, and actively sought ways to engage and educate the community about important issues.

To help Texas voters learn about judicial candidates, for instance, he created the Committee for a Qualified Judiciary. As President of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, he formed new alliances with the Black and Hispanic Chambers. As a partner with Arter & Hadden, Smith formed the first minority marketing committee to promote attorneys of black and Hispanic heritage. With Bell Nunnally & Martin he co-founded the Texas General Counsel Forum. He also created events to raise funds such as the Russell Perry Free Enterprise Award for Dallas Baptist University and the Legends of Service Award for Dallas Life.

Smith now focuses on cases involving state and local taxes and government relations for Friedman & Feiger. He has served on the board of DFW Airport; is current chair of the Better Business Bureau for North Central Texas; and serves on the BBVA Compass advisory board. This year also marks his 26th year as Honorary Counsel General for Thailand.

As a member of The Potter’s House congregation, Smith strives to balance his life with family, work, politics and community.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service

Judge Tonya Parker Judge Tonya Parker ’98
116th Civil District Court, Dallas County

The Hon. Tonya Parker is 116th Judicial District Court Judge and the Presiding Judge for the Dallas County Civil District Courts. She also has served as president of the Texas Association of District Judges. 

In 2016, Judge Parker was elected to the American Law Institute, for which the country’s most respected jurists work to clarify, improve and modernize the law. She is consistently recognized for her performance and temperament on the bench. In the Judicial Evaluation Polls sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association in 2013 and 2015, her overall approval ratings were above 90 percent — the highest of any civil district judge to be evaluated. 

The distinguished judge is recognized at the local, state and national levels for her contributions.  In 2015, the Dallas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) named her “Trial Judge of the Year” and the State Bar of Texas African-American Lawyers Section honored her with its “Distinguished Jurist Award.” In February 2017, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity awarded her one of its prestigious Stonewall Awards.

Judge Parker, devoted to supporting community initiatives, has been a keynote speaker at numerous public events and is a regular volunteer with IGNITE, a non-partisan organization aimed at training and inspiring young women (ages 14 to 22) to run for public office. Since 2012, she has been a regular presenter at IGNITE’s annual conferences and after-school programs. Her service to IGNITE recently earned her its “2017 Trailblazer Award.” She also was chosen by the Dallas County Democratic Party as “2016 Elected Official of the Year.”

Distinguished Global Alumni Award

Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire LL.M. ’03
Justice of the Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court of Uganda 

The Honorable Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire is a sitting Justice of the Court of Appeal, which doubles as the Constitutional Court of Uganda. Appointed to the position in October 2015, she is recognized as the youngest of the court’s 14 justices.

Lady Justice Bamugemereire is chairperson of a Commission of Inquiry into the Land Sector, her third Commission of Inquiry assignment. Previously she served on the Uganda National Roads Authority Inquiry from 2015-2016 and the Kampala Capital City Authority Tribunal in 2013. 

After receiving her LL.B. degree from Uganda’s Makerere University in 1992, she became a Pupil State Attorney in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. She was soon called to the bench as Magistrate Grade One and rose to become Chief Magistrate of Uganda’s White-Collar Criminal Court. In 2001, she chose to diversify her experience by serving as legal advisor to Shell Mexico LPG in Mexico City. Shortly afterward she studied for a Master of Laws in Comparative and International Law (LL.M.), which she earned from SMU Dedman Law in 2003. 

After relocating to the UK, she served as an associate lecturer at the University of Surrey for seven years until returning to Uganda to serve on the High Court Bench in 2010. During that time she worked in the Anti-Corruption and Family Divisions and carried out civil and criminal circuit assignments throughout the country.

Lady Justice Bamugemereire, an expert on corruption, has extensively written and spoken widely on the topic, from Oxford Brookes, Manchester, Leicester to the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She also has led international anti-corruption seminars in countries ranging from Uganda to Kenya.

Guided by her judicial motto, “make backlog history,” Lady Justice Bamugemereire is committed to conducting her work with efficiency and expediency. She is passionate about good governance, the fight against corruption, human and women’s rights and the strengthening of anti-corruption institutions. She believes she must serve as a champion of the people who are the silent victims of corruption in the poor service delivery of water. Even in the face of death threats, her resilience and tenacity are unmatched.

Emerging Leader Award

Angela (Wennihan) Zambrano Angela (Wennihan) Zambrano ’97
Partner, Sidley Austin LLP

Angela Zambrano, a co-leader of the firm-wide Complex Commercial Litigation practice, represents companies and boards of directors in commercial litigation and internal investigations, including class actions and multi-jurisdictional disputes. She has served as trial counsel in cases before numerous federal and state courts and in arbitration proceedings around the country. Zambrano litigates cases involving allegations of fraud, breach of contract, bad faith and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as class-action consumer and employment claims, shareholder claims, and business torts for companies in a wide variety of industries, including insurance, healthcare, private equity, manufacturing, energy, transportation, media and entertainment.

Zambrano has earned a reputation for providing outstanding litigation advice. In 2006, she was named among D Magazine’s “Top Lawyers Under 40,” and since 2007, has been recognized annually by Texas Super Lawyers as a leading lawyer in the areas of business litigation or class action. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, she was listed as a Texas “Local Litigation” star by Benchmark Litigation and recognized in Who’s Who Legal: Litigation. She was lauded for “Commercial Litigation” in the 2016 and 2017 editions of The Best Lawyers in America.

Devoted to community, Zambrano was named one of “Five Outstanding Young Dallasites” in 2010 by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on the board of the Dallas Women Lawyers Association (for which she was president in 2016) and is on the board of Texas Appleseed. She is a Community Fellow in the SMU Dedman Law’s Inns of Court Program and will serve the University as an adjunct professor in the fall. Zambrano is a sustaining member of Attorneys Serving the Community, which benefits charitable organizations in the DFW area that help women, children and families.

Honorary Alumnus Award

Charles A. TarpleyCharles A. Tarpley
Attorney at Law and Chairman, SMU Air Law Symposium

As attorney and chair of SMU’s Air Law Symposium, Charles Tarpley’s focuses on aviation and insurance matters domestically and abroad. He is admitted to practice in Texas, Illinois and New York; the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits; in U.S. District Courts; and the U.S. Tax Court. Tarpley currently consults with policyholders and insurance companies on aviation matters including insurance coverage disputes and bad-faith contentions. He also is frequently retained as an expert witness in these areas and has spoken at numerous aviation and insurance conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

Formerly, Tarpley was senior vice president and secretary for Aviation Office of America Inc., a subsidiary of the Xerox Core. Additionally he has been a trial attorney at Lord Bissell & Brook and an electrical engineer at General Electric.

Tarpley began his aviation career in the U.S. Air Force and flew 26 combat missions in Southeast Asia. His commercial career began at Pan American World Airways where he flew Boeing 707, 727 and 747 and Airbus A310 aircraft on six continents. With the sale of Pan Am’s European route structure to Delta Air Lines in 1991, Tarpley became a Delta pilot, where he flew Boeing 727, Airbus A-310 and Lockheed 1011 aircraft.

He was a Pan Am designated check airman and Delta pilot instructor who provided extensive guidance for Delta’s human factors and new-hire programs, as well as its Pilot Instructor School. His Federal Aviation Administration aeronautical certificates include Airline Transport Pilot (with numerous type ratings), Flight Instructor (Multi & Single Engine Airplane, Instrument and Glider), Flight Engineer-Turbo Jet and Ground Instructor. As chair of the SMU Air Law Symposium, Tarpley serves on the Board of the Journal of Air Law & Commerce. He also has taught aviation Law as an adjunct professor at SMU Dedman Law. He also has served as chair of the David Bernard Memorial Foundation in Los Angeles, which serves to remember an aviation defense trial lawyer who died in the midair collision of a PSA Boeing 727 and a Cessna general aviation aircraft on approach to Lindbergh Field in San Diego in 1978.

Tarpley is a graduate of SMU’s School of Engineering, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business and The University of Texas School of Law.

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