William J. Chriss, J.D., Ph.D.

Of Counsel

william_chriss_cropped

Practice Areas and Expertise

Mr. Chriss has over 25 years experience in state and federal courts. He has been board certified in Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for over 20 years, having successfully handled a large number of complex lawsuits, arbitrations, mediations, and appeals. He has extensive experience as lead counsel in cases involving insurance bad faith, construction defects, property damage, wrongful death, serious bodily injury, libel and slander, fraud, commercial litigation, employment disputes, breach of contract, and deceptive trade practices. He also has many years experience in legal ethics and legal malpractice, having recently served two years as Dean of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, a non-profit foundation founded by three retired chief justices of the Texas Supreme Court to promote the highest levels of integrity among lawyers.

Mr. Chriss’ insurance law practice has involved representing policyholders against insurance companies, agents, and brokers in cases involving property, health, disability, life, and auto insurance. He has represented businesses, government, and private individuals in a variety of matters including claims denial, claims underpayment, appraisal, arbitration, and insurance bad faith. He has handled hundreds of cases involving coverage issues and the benefits due under insurance policies. He was one of the first Texas lawyers to try to verdict property damage claims involving plumbing leakage and slab foundation damage, and claims involving mold. He has written and lectured so extensively on property damage and insurance law that his work has been cited by lawyers and mentioned at seminars, in court opinions, and in scholarly articles for years.

His construction and property damage litigation experience includes representing owners against general contractors, subcontractors, product manufaturers, engineers, and realtors. He has represented both homeowners and commercial building owners in actions to recover damages due to defects in construction or modification/repair.

As a board certified specialist in personal injury law, Mr. Chriss has also tried many personal injury cases to jury verdict, including cases involving wrongful death, paraplegia, and other serious bodily injuries. As lead counsel, he has handled cases involving product liability, construction site accidents, automobile and motorcycle accidents, tire blowout, aviation, train crossings, falls, drowning, and serious burns. He was one of the first attorneys in the nation to try to a verdict a case involving a fatal accident allegedly caused by lack of vehicular conspicuity.

With respect to libel, slander, and invasion of privacy, Mr. Chriss was lead counsel in one of the important cases interpreting the substantial truth doctrine as it relates to libel and slander, and for several years he acted as counsel to newspapers and to radio and television stations. He has also represented aggrieved individuals in claims of damage to their reputations, and he has substantial experience in Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act law. Recently, he published the first major law review article in several years to comprehensively analyze the Texas law of privacy and personhood.

In employment law matters, Mr. Chriss represents employees in lawsuits and arbitration proceedings involving claims of wrongful termination, including claims of workers’ compensation retaliation. He has also represented workers or employers in claims of employment discrimination, slander, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, covenants not to compete, and separation and severance agreements.

Mr. Chriss’ professional activities were recognized by the Texas Bar Foundation, which named him the recipient of the 2005 statewide Dan R. Price Award for service to the legal profession and excellence in teaching and scholarly writing. Over the years, he has provided ethics and compliance training to a number of government agencies and major corporations, including the State Bar of Texas, the Attorney General of Texas, the U.S. Army, and American Airlines, and to various professional and industry groups including accountants, architects, attorneys, judges, bank officers, insurance adjusters, real estate professionals, and others.

Mr. Chriss holds graduate degrees in law, theology, and history and politics. He was one of the youngest members of his graduating class at Harvard Law School where he received a Howe fellowship in Civil Liberties and Anglo-American Legal History and earned his law degree at the age of 23. While practicing law, he taught courses in Judicial Politics, Political Philosophy, History, and Constitutional Law within the Texas A&M University system, and in his spare time he is now earning a Ph.D. in Legal and Political History at The University of Texas where he holds an endowed doctoral fellowship under the acclaimed American historian H.W. Brands.

Mr. Chriss is licensed to practice in Texas as well as in the Southern Federal District of Texas, The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and The United States Supreme Court.

Education

The University of Texas B.A. with high honors
Harvard Law School J.D.
The University of Balamand M.A.
Texas A&M-Kingsville M.A.

Professional Affiliations

American Board of Trial Advocates
State Bar of Texas Insurance Law Council
State Bar of Texas Appellate Law Council (ex officio)
State Bar of Texas Litigation Council (ex officio)
American Bar Foundation

  • Fellow

Texas Bar Foundation

  • Life Fellow

The Texas Supreme Court Historical Society

  • Life Fellow
  • Member of the Board of Directors

Board Certifications

Civil Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1985
Personal Injury Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1985

Top