A partner at the law firm of Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller LLP, Cindy Hill specializes in labor and employment law. She was born in Corpus Christi, but, as a self-proclaimed “oil company brat,” she grew up all over the world. Her family returned to Texas in time for her to graduate from high school and attend the University of Texas at Austin as both an undergraduate and law student.
Hill first went to work with Hall Estill in Oklahoma, she soon returned to Texas at Shannon Gracey.
In addition to representing Texas employers, for more than 25 years, Hill has been an attorney for public and private schools, independent school districts, community colleges, universities and other public entities. She has successfully represented both public and private employers in contested matters before state and federal administrative agencies, alternative dispute resolution forums, grievance arbitrations and before the highest state and federal courts.
Hill is an active member of the employment and women’s bar association sections of the Tarrant County Bar, the labor and employment and school law sections of the State Bar, the Eldon B. Mahon Inns of Court and the Project Reach Advisory Board for the Fort Worth Independent School District.
Hill has been married for 23 years to Damon McAnally and has a son who is both a college student and an aspiring musician. She loves to hike and spends most of her spare time planning her next trip to the Big Bend.
Which legal case in American history do you see as the most influential? Why?
I believe that Brown v. Board of Education is the most influential case to be handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 100 years. Brown served as a catalyst for the modern civil rights movement and established the legal means of challenging segregation in all areas of society. In addition, Brown inspired education reform and opened the doors of education to all students regardless of race or socio-economic status.
What inspired you to become an attorney?
Between my junior and senior years of high school, I had the opportunity to attend Texas Girls’ State. It was a wonderful experience and as a young woman I had the chance to get to know several trailblazing female politicians like Ann Richards and Carole Keeton. However, the thing that really touched me was a speech by the first woman lawyer ever to be hired by Exxon. Her name was Nancy Stagg and she was senior counsel for Exxon in the late 1970s. Her passion and poise inspired me to become more confident, discover my purpose and become a lawyer. That speech underscores just how important female leaders are for the attitudes and ambitions of young women.
What is your most significant professional achievement?
I am most proud of the day-to-day counsel I share with clients in order to ensure that they never have to see the inside of a courtroom. However, at heart I am still a litigator and love to argue. During one 12-month period I had the privilege of arguing three times before the Fifth Circuit on a series of constitutional law cases. Luckily, we were successful each time. As a bonus I learned where to get the best gumbo in New Orleans.
What motivates you?
While I originally chose the law in order to become the female version of Perry Mason, I discovered that my real strengths were in analyzing problems and advising others. With both education law and employment law there is such a variety of issues that you get to face unexpected challenges on a regular basis so my practice never feels stale.
What are the major challenges facing young attorneys?
Given the economic realities of the practice of law today, young attorneys are not afforded an appropriate level of hands on courtroom or client experience. With the average hourly rates for first year attorneys exceeding $200, clients will no longer pay for anything that could be construed as training. Therefore, it appears that young attorneys are either thrown into the water with little to no guidance; or, sheltered in the library with no contact with the client. I have seen more dissatisfaction among young attorneys since law became a business rather than a profession.
– Betty Dillard