The attorneys and staff of Graves Dougherty mourn the loss and celebrate the life of their dear friend and law partner, Chris Elliott, who passed away on September 17, 2020.
Chris was a gifted lawyer, a natural leader, and one of the kindest souls we will ever know. Even while battling terminal illness, Chris inspired us as he put family, clients, and colleagues first, never thinking of himself, but always looking for how he could serve others.
Chris was a proud graduate of Austin College and the Baylor University School of Law. After clerking at Graves Dougherty during the summer of 1989, Chris accepted a full-time position at the firm. Chris served as a law clerk to Justices Bob Shannon and Mack Kidd on the Third District Court of Appeals in Austin, and then as general counsel of the Texas State Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, before starting his private law practice at Graves Dougherty.
Chris was inspired to become a lawyer when he came to understand how the law could level the playing field in disputes between the powerless and less fortunate and those who inflicted injury or injustice upon them. He never lost sight of his commitment to those ideals. Even as his practice evolved in various ways, Chris always reserved a special place in his heart for the representation of ordinary people in disputes with more powerful and well-resourced opponents.
Following his passion and after practicing law for several years at Graves Dougherty, Chris pursued a practice representing everyday people who had been injured or wronged. In 2007, Chris returned home to Graves Dougherty where he continued and expanded his legal practice, never losing sight of his desire to help others.
Chris was a generous spirit and made sure the people in his life knew he cared for them, by both words and actions. Graves Dougherty was honored that Chris answered its call to serve as the firm’s vice president and litigation section leader for many years, in addition to his service as a member of its board of directors.
During his three decades of law practice, Chris distinguished himself as a powerful advocate for his clients, earning elected membership in the Austin Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, as well as a term as president of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. In 2005, Chris was invited to serve as an adjunct professor at Baylor Law School, where he taught law students on alternative dispute resolution.
Chris was a great communicator and could be no-nonsense when needed, but more often, he looked for ways to bring smiles to the faces of those around him.
A strong believer in giving back to his community, Chris served on non-profit boards including Austin Habitat for Humanity, Mexic-Arte Museum, and the Capital Area AIDS Legal Project. He was passionate about fulfilling his duty as a lawyer to serve people in need, including through pro bono service with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, Texas C-BAR, and the Capital Area AIDS Legal Project.
Chris was an active participant in local politics, including serving as the elected Chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, where he earned the respect of the community as a tireless supporter of Democratic candidates and causes.
Chris’s affection for his friends and colleagues at Graves Dougherty was limitless and enthusiastic, and it was returned many times over. We will miss him terribly.
Chris was a dedicated husband and father, and our deepest condolences go out to Chris’s wife (and our friend) Tish Hinojosa Elliott; their children, Lily and Boone; Chris’s father and stepmother, Charles and Paula Elliott; his sister, Kim Elliott; and all of Chris and Tish’s extended family.