Texas Tech School of Law Eighth Annual Gala Honors Distinguished Alumni

Written by Celeste Villarreal

Texas Tech University School of Law celebrated the accomplishments of distinguished alumni Mar. 2. David W. Copeland (’82) and Chris A. Peirson (‘77) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and Michael J. Henry (’81), and Walter B. (’77) and the late Anne R. Huffman received the Distinguished Service Award.

More than three hundred, including previous award recipients, local attorneys and judges, students, faculty and staff attended this year’s event. The awards recognize professional and personal commitment to excellence, and contributions to the law school and legal community.

Copeland is the senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of SM Energy Company in Denver. He has enjoyed a long, successful career in the oil and gas business. During the course of his legal career, he has negotiated more than $15 billion in merger, acquisition, divestiture and financing transactions in the energy industry. He serves on the board of trustees of the Texas Tech University School of Law Foundation and the board of directors of the State Bar of Texas; he is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a member of the Energy Innovation Initiative Advisory Board of the University of Colorado Law School.

Peirson is board certified in residential real estate law in Texas and is a nationally recognized authority on the law and regulation of residential mortgage lending. She is a frequent speaker at seminars and conventions, including the Mortgage Banking Association of America, the American Institute of Banking, the State Bar of Texas and many other professional organizations. Currently a partner in PeirsonPatterson, LLP, Peirson also authored the legal forms that govern the practice of residential property transactions and has contributed to legal publications for the State Bar of Texas, Texas Real Estate Law Reporter, the Texas Land Title Institute and a number of Texas law schools. In addition, she has written screenplays that have appeared on national television.

Henry has provided premier representation in oil and gas disputes, breach of contract, employment, commercial, personal injury and wrongful death litigation for more than 30 years. He is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in civil trial law and personal injury law and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates; he has attained the highest rating of professional excellence by Martindale-Hubbell. Henry has been named a Super Lawyer for 2004 through the present year.

Walter B. Huffman, served as dean of the Texas Tech University School of Law from August, 2002 through June 2010. He was formerly a senior assistant for law and policy to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and also served as the Judge Advocate General of The United States Army – the Army’s senior military lawyer. Dean Huffman has been named a Distinguished Graduate of Texas Tech University, a Distinguished Graduate of the College of Education, and a Distinguished Graduate of the School of Law. He also is a member of the Army Field Artillery Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. Dean Huffman is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and the Texas Bar Foundation and is a member of the American Law Institute. He is a former director of the State Bar of Texas. In 2009, he was appointed Distinguished Senior Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies.

The late Anne R. Huffman married Walter Burl Huffman, on April 7, 1966 and joined him on a 33-year Army career, during which she devoted her life to her family and to helping others. Mrs. Huffman’s selfless devotion to helping others was epitomized during her second tour in Germany when Walt’s unit was deployed to South West Asia for Operation Desert Storm leaving many family members behind in Germany. She helped to pioneer a concept now formalized in the Army as the Family Support Group when she organized a center to assist the spouses of enlisted soldiers during the soldier’s combat deployment. She embodied this same spirit of service when she became a mentor to many and a friend to all during her time as the "First Lady" of the Army JAG Corps and subsequently as "First Lady" and sponsor of the Law Partners organization for student's spouses at the Texas Tech School of Law. This world lost a very kind soul when Anne Huffman lost a valiant battle with cancer on Dec. 23, 2011. She is the first non-alumnus to receive this award.

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Contact: Celeste Villarreal, communications coordinator, Texas Tech School of Law, (806) 742-3990 ext. 249, or celeste.villarreal@ttu.edu.