Denise Drake focuses her practice on appellate law and on complex commercial litigation.
Denise was a law clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, from 2016 to 2017. She was also law clerk to Judge Charles R. Breyer, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, from 2014 to 2015; and to Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, from 2013 to 2014.
Prior to law school, Denise was an analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York on the Emerging Markets Foreign Exchange and Derivatives Desk. Denise co-founded an African investment hedge fund which is currently managed by its co-founder.
A consummate professional who provides sharp and timely pragmatic advice that you can take to the bank. Possesses a highly impressive combination of intellect, EQ, and depth of experience that make her the perfect choice for virtually any sophisticated appellate or trial matter. A strategic and creative thinker who seamlessly harmonizes both client objectives and assertive legal positions.
– Sonya Hill Bishop, Deputy General Counsel Litigation & Employment, Phillips 66; Jeffrey S. Miller, Managing Counsel – Litigation, Phillips 66
Denise is our go to lawyer for any complex commercial case that requires smart strategic thinking. She has a brilliant legal mind but at the same time is very practical in finding solutions to real business problems. She is one of the best writers I have worked with. She successfully briefed and argued a multimillion-dollar commercial appeal in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals for my company. She is a very effective advocate in all phases of a case: pretrial, trial, and appeal. We will continue to hire her for any type or size case.
– Richard Sanders, Assistant General Counsel, Kinder Morgan
‘A Consensus Builder by Disposition’ What Stephen Breyer’s Clerks Have to Say About the Justice and His Legacy
Bobbleheads and Smoked Brisket at SCOTUS: Recollections and Advice from Former Supreme Court Law Clerks Who Now Practice in Texas
Houston Lawyer Reminisces: Learning Spanish with Justice Breyer
David M. Dunwoody, Jr. v. EnVen Energy Corp. et al.
Lead appellate counsel representing David Dunwoody, co-founder and former president of EnVen, in a dispute under his employment agreement. Following a three-week trial, the jury awarded Mr. Dunwoody full damages, resulting in a $12.4 million final judgment in his favor. EnVen appealed, but a three-judge panel from the Fourteenth Court of Appeals unanimously “overruled all of the issues raised by EnVen.” In its 29-page opinion, the Court of Appeals explained that the summary judgment and directed verdict rulings in Mr. Dunwoody’s favor, his damages model, and his legal and factual arguments before and during trial gave rise to no error. Accordingly, it affirmed the trial court’s judgment in full.
Opinion – View the full Opinion
Law 360 – Appeals Court Backs Energy Co. Ex-Exec’s Severance Win
Law 360 – Trial Groups of the Year: Gibbs & Bruns
Drummond Coal Sales, Inc. v. Kinder Morgan Operating LP
Lead trial and appellate counsel in obtaining and affirming on appeal a full summary judgment victory on the merits for a Kinder Morgan subsidiary. Argued on appeal before an Eleventh Circuit panel of Judges Tjoflat, Karnes, and Grant, who unanimously affirmed in Kinder’s favor. Drummond paid over $24 million to satisfy the judgment in full and the matter was successfully closed.
Law 360 – 11th Circ. Doubts Coal Co. Can Ditch $23M Kinder Morgan Suit
Law 360 – Overhaul Kinder Morgan’s $23M Contract Win, 11th Circ. Told
Enterprise Products Operating LLC v. Amec Foster Wheeler USA Corp.
Lead appellate counsel representing Enterprise in successful opposition to petitions for review in Texas Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court, following calls for a response from each court on complex issues regarding jurisdiction over British parent company.
Lead appellate counsel representing Enterprise in three-month trial concerning a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical refinery in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Defendants paid Enterprise a nine-figure settlement before the court issued its judgment.
Titan Oil & Gas v. David Willis and RigUp, Inc.
Lead appellate counsel and co-trial counsel in obtaining and affirming on appeal a full summary judgment victory on behalf of Workrise f/k/a RigUp Inc. in a challenge to the use of noncompetes against independent oil & gas contractors. Successfully obtained full affirmance from the Sixth Court of Appeals in an opinion scrutinizing the continued viability of a legal precedent. Successfully opposed petition for review in Texas Supreme Court following that Court’s call for a response.
Video – Stories from the Field: David Wills
Law 360 – Consulting Co. Can’t Sue Contractor for Switching Firms
Workrise f/k/a RigUp Inc. v. Sierra Hamilton
Lead appellate counsel representing Workrise f/k/a RigUp Inc. in successfully obtaining a full reversal on appeal in Workrise’s favor. The Third Court of Appeal’s lengthy published opinion adopted Workrise’s position in full, including on issues of first impression, and has industry-wide implications for challenges to noncompete enforceability by independent oil & gas contractors.
Law 360 – Oil and Gas Staffer Dodges Contractor Recruitment Suit
Magema Technology v. Phillips 66
Lead appellate counsel representing Phillips 66 in patent infringement dispute. Trial proceedings in federal district court are ongoing.
Apache Corporation v. Pioneer Natural Resources Company
Represented Pioneer Natural Resources in case involving Apache’s demand of over $50 million in damages in connection with oil & gas assets in Argentina. Took key international depositions and filed successful motions for summary judgment on contract interpretation, after which the case settled without any payment by Pioneer.
Stanford University, J.D., 2013
Stanford Law Review
Marion Rice Kirkwood Stanford Moot Court Competition, 2013 Winner
Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic
Harvard University, B.A., with honors, 2007, Economics and Government
Listed in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch – Commercial Litigation, 2023
Supreme Court of the United States
State Bar of Texas
State Bar of California
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
FINRA Series 7, Series 63 certified (inactive)
Houston Bar Association, Member
“A Dialogue on the U.S. Supreme Court: An Insider’s Perspective from Former Clerk Denise Drake, JD ’13,” The Stanford Law Houston Chapter and Stanford Alumni Club, March 26, 2019, Houston, TX