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Jim Hemphill is a trial and appellate lawyer who helps clients find creative solutions to complex problems.  His commercial litigation practice often involves matters with unique facts and novel legal issues that require inventive analytical and strategic approaches, ranging from landfill and environmental issues to bad-faith insurance claims-handling allegations.

Jim’s long-standing practice in First Amendment, media, and open-government law is enhanced by his experience as a newspaper and television journalist.  He is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America in the category of First Amendment law.

Jim has an extensive appellate practice and is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He has argued several cases before state and federal appellate courts in a variety of matters, including First Amendment cases, arbitration issues, and appeals from administrative agency rulings. 


Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Jim received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, with high honors, from The University of Texas School of Law in 1993.  While in law school, he was selected as a member of the academic honor societies the Chancellors and the Order of the Coif.  He also served as Editor in Chief of the Texas Law Review.  After law school, he was a law clerk to the Hon. R. Lanier Anderson III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Jim received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with distinction, from Iowa State University in 1983, with a major in journalism and mass communication and a minor in English.  He also did graduate studies in journalism at Iowa State.

Before law school, Jim was a practicing journalist with experience in newspapers, magazines, television, and radio.  He also taught reporting at Iowa State University’s journalism school.

He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Texas, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


  • Isaacks v. New Times: Lead counsel for alternative weekly newspaper in libel case in which the Texas Supreme Court confirmed the constitutional protection of political satire
  • Texas Disposal Systems Landfill v. Waste Management: Jury trial resulting in finding of liability against opposing party in dispute between marketplace competitors
  • Atwater v. City of Lago Vista: Primary author of merits brief in United States Supreme Court for prevailing party in Fourth Amendment case
  • McElroy, et al. v. Pohl: Extensively litigated case involving alleged fraud in real estate partnerships; negotiated seven-figure settlement for clients
  • Basic Capital Management v. Dow Jones: Involved in defending libel case againstThe Wall Street Journal, including primary responsibility for drafting successful summary judgment motion and successful appellate pleadings


Jim is a member of the American Bar Association (including litigation and communication law forums), the State Bar of Texas, and the Austin Bar Association (including litigation and appellate sections).  He is also active in the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the national Media Law Resource Center.



In addition to providing pro bono representation to clients such as Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and through Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, Jim is proud to serve in several volunteer capacities for community and professional organizations.

  • Chair, Board of Directors, Easter Seals of Central Texas
  • Board of Directors, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
  • Treasurer, Texas Law Review Association
  • Co-chair, Trial Tactics Committee, Media Law Resource Center


Jim’s writings on defamation and online liability issues have been published in theTexas Law Review and the Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal.

He has given presentations and appeared on panels addressing a variety of trial law topics, including a State Bar of Texas seminar on litigation issues for intellectual property transactional lawyers, a speech on Internet liability issues for the Practicing Law Institute’s computer law conference, and a seminar on liability issues for national computer users’ group.

He is also a frequent panelist at national media law seminars.