Mike Lynn Named Top 50 Lion of the Texas Bar
By Patricia Baldwin
Mike Lynn said he learned by example to “think out of the box.” His late mother, once Arlington’s mayor pro tem, helped integrate schools and parks. His father, a prolific inventor at Bell Helicopter, is credited with the research and engineering for the world’s fastest helicopter.
Colleagues, however, contend the 65-year-old founding partner at Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox in Dallas doesn’t see the box.
Known as a relentless litigator, Lynn’s career reflects creative risk-taking.
- As a young lawyer at Akin Gump, he wanted more time in court. His firm mentor, Jack Hauer, ordered Lynn to sit outside Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade’s office until he was hired. It took two weeks.
- Mid-career, Lynn navigated ahead of the trend when he left the high-powered Akin Gump a second time to start a litigation boutique.
- In 2014, he won possibly the largest jury judgment in North Texas courtroom history with an approximate $535 million decision for client Energy Transfer Partners in a dispute regarding an ill-fated relationship with a pipeline company.
- And, earlier this year, he fulfilled a 40-year dream by hiking for three months on the challenging Appalachian Trail.
Lynn, however, would like to be remembered for helping people. That, he said, is the satisfaction of being a litigator.
He added, “I’ve never been particularly worried about failing. I tell young lawyers I don’t like working with them until they’ve lost several cases. That’s the only way you learn.”
Still, Lynn’s “W” column is lengthy.
In 1998, Visa International hired Lynn when an Internet credit card processing company charged that a Visa executive had anonymously posted hundreds of critical messages on Yahoo’s investment website. The firm sought $800 million in actual damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.
Lynn’s defense was “So what?” The jury agreed that the postings had no material impact on the market.
In 2000, his representation of Alcatel “helped rebuild the Dallas courtroom” with multi-media support for defending what some say was the largest trade secret settlement agreement ever reached in a Dallas County court case.
Lynn is currently representing Chilean-based Inppamet in a $60 million international business dispute against RSR Corporation, a Dallas-based lead smelter. The case became newsworthy when Lynn accused his opposing counsel, Bickel & Brewer, of improperly hiring a former executive of Inppamet in an effort to gain insider, privileged information.
The Dallas Court of Appeals has upheld Lynn’s request to disqualify Bickel & Brewer from the case, which is now on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
“Mike is fierce and unpredictable,” says Jeff Tillotson, his long-time law partner. “Mike loves to find the weakness in the other side’s case and then exploit that weakness completely.
“Despite his toughness and aggressiveness in court, Mike is the most loyal and kind-hearted man I know,” says Tillotson. “He’s an extraordinarily gentle and sentimental father and he treats everyone who works at the firm as if he is personally responsible for them.”
Lynn and his wife, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, met when they were pre-law undergraduates at the University of Virginia. He planned to return to Texas to attend Southern Methodist University. She was encouraged by professors to head to Harvard Law.
She opted for Texas and marriage, which, he pointed out with a laugh, “worked out pretty well.”
Lynn noted, “We don’t make any decision without consulting the other.”
Hiking the “AT,” as it is known, was Lynn’s way of “pushing back against getting old.” Because of his two knee replacements, he adopted the trail name of “Tin Man.”
He recorded his “transformational” adventure in a blog for his family and was surprised when views surpassed 15,000.
In a final posting, he wrote about his lessons, which could have been penned by his namesake Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz”
“I learned again that giving up was mental and when you have to climb, you inevitably climb and finish the journey.”