New Fort Worth law firm offers experience, new outlook

front row: Judge D. Michael Lynn, John Bonds, Josh Eppich. standing; Paul Lopez, Rollie Schafer, Christian Ellis, Patrick Sheridan and Brandon Jones

Fort Worth’s newest law firm spans several generations.

Occupying a 10,000-square-foot space in downtown’s Chase Bank Building, Bonds Ellis Eppich Schafer Jones LLP insists it has something different to offer.

“The distinction between us and other law firms is experience,” said Josh Eppich, referring not only to himself and his partners but also to colleague D. Michael Lynn, whose 14 years as judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth division, balances the fledgling firm’s younger perspective.

It’s that combination that delivers the experience expected from a veteran law firm with the fresh perspective of younger attorneys working in a smaller boutique office, he said.

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“We were also together in the same law firm,” said Roland “Rollie” Schafer, referring to Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller LLP.

The partners worked at that Fort Worth firm for varying numbers of years but decided to strike out on their own. A desire to run their own operation prompted them to unveil a new operation in early November.

The new practice includes partners John Bonds, Christian Ellis, Eppich, Brandon Jones and Schafer; associate attorneys Patrick Sheridan and Paul Lopez; and attorneys and counsels Lynn and Joe Spence.

On the 10th floor of the Chase Bank Building on Throckmorton Street, the team serves clients from various industries. From construction and oil and gas to banking and insurance, businesses seek help in litigation, lien and bond disputes, workplace accident prevention and investigation, and other areas.

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It’s no accident that several of those services focus on construction, a thriving sector in Fort Worth and a primary focus of at least one of the partners.

“The construction market is hot and heavy in Fort Worth,” said Ellis, whose 18 years of legal experience include handling construction and business disputes, commercial contract drafting and litigation and insurance issues. He also worked previously at Harrison Steck PC and Handy & Robinson PC.

Opening the new practice seems timely considering what some industry observers call Fort Worth’s construction resurgence.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth,” said Ellis, pointing to public school construction and private enterprise as driving the market.

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“The biggest issue I see is the lack of qualified labor, resulting in project delays and related concerns,” Ellis said.

When Ellis and his partners left Shannon, Gracey they did not leave their clients behind.

“We were fortunate enough to not have any clients not elect to move their files to the new firm,” said Schafer. “In fact, we had clients say we hired a lawyer, not a law firm.”

The firm plans to continue expanding.

“We’re going to continue to add lawyers and expand,” said Bonds. “We want to be a law firm where companies trust us with their most significant litigation.”

Leasing office space formerly occupied by Athlon Energy was no afterthought. The partners wanted enough room to allow for growth. That was foremost on their minds when Matt Carthey of Holt Lunsford Commercial-Fort Worth represented the firm in leasing the space.

Asked whether the firm plans to add industries it would represent, Shafer said, “It’s more adding lawyers that are qualified that we think are a good fit rather than picking industries.

“That’s a unique approach. Everyone needs to work well together.”