Leaders in the courtroom; leaders in the community

 

A sculpture representing the scales of justice sits at the heart of a conference room in the Arlington office of the law firm Harris Cook, LLP. That’s not surprising – the iconic symbol of the balance between truth and fairness sought after in the justice system is standard law office fare.

What’s not conventional, however, is a second metaphor this particular scale represents. While the firm’s principals, David L. Cook and Kimberly Fitzpatrick, do score daily victories while representing clients in a variety of legal endeavors, both are also civil servants who have been elected as mayors of the cities in which they live.

Consequently, the sense of balance depicted by the scales extends beyond the courtroom and into the farthest reaches of the very communities they call home.

For Cook, that’s Mansfield. Fitzpatrick serves Dalworthington Gardens. And just like the founder of the firm, the late Senator Chris Harris, they parlay the same mix of wisdom, experience and tenacity that makes them stellar attorneys into a “can do” brand of civic leadership that helps point their respective cities toward a brighter future. And then they lead them there.

 

Cook’s roots in law and public service run deep – and wide. As a student at Mansfield High School, his interest in both pursuits was piqued by school counselor R.L. Anderson. “He got me a job with Harold
English, a local attorney,” Cook recalls. “And through that I got to know Hon. Roy English (a judge and state legislator) and became interested in public service, as well. After graduating from Stephen F. Austin, I began working for Senator Harris’ law office in 1993. I became licenced in 1997, and was made a partner with Chris in 2004, at which time we formed Harris Cook LLP.”

Harris proved to be a treasured mentor to Cook, both in the legal and civic realms. “He taught me what to do – and what not to do,” Cook says. “It was an invaluable education that, I believe, prepared me well both for serving my clients as an attorney and serving the citizens of Mansfield.”

He began doing the latter in 2008, when he was elected mayor. The city’s “before” picture wasn’t particularly pretty, he recalls. “There was a lot of infighting going on, and there was a petition to recall the mayor,” he says. “A group of citizens asked me if I would run. I already had a desire to be a public servant, and I always felt that in the mayor’s job you get a lot of opportunities to assist. So I ran.”

Mansfield’s “after” picture, nearly a decade later, shows that to be a sound decision. From the day he began campaigning for the position under the motto “Working Together,” Cook walked the walk. He focused on unifying parties with disparate agendas. He tapped the experience and expertise of the city’s administration team led by 30-plus-year veteran City Manager Clayton Chandler. He made development a top priority for his hometown.

The sum of those parts, as well as his commitment to become involved in all manner of community endeavors, was a citywide – and, peripherally, a region-wide – renaissance, culminated during Cook’s tenure by Mansfield’s routine designation by Money magazine as one the “Best Places to Live in America.”

 

While cook’s call to become an attorney came early in life, Fitzpatrick heard hers even sooner. “When I was a little girl in Virginia, I wanted to be a lawyer,” she says. “I like setting goals and reaching them, and I was always fascinated by the prospect of helping people who have suffered a loss or who are at a disadvantage to get what they deserve.”

Like her colleague, Fitzpatrick prepped for her eventual career with gusto. As a student at Texas Wesleyan University, she worked full-time as a waitress to pay for her schooling and worked as a paralegal at a local law firm.

After earning a degree with double majors in business and psychology, she went straight to the TWU Law School (now a part of the Texas A&M system), earned her law degree and began working at Harris Cook in 2008, the same year Cook became mayor of Mansfield.

At the time, she didn’t aspire to go into public service, but after attending a number of DWG city council meetings, she saw, as Cook did, a city government divided. And, like Cook, she had the backing of a number of locals who realized that the compassion and tenacity she brought to the courtroom would translate well in local politics. So she decided to run for mayor.

Six months into her first term, Fitzpatrick says she is focusing on balancing the city budget, helping the town’s residents realize the benfit of responsible development, making sure there is transparency with regard to local issues, and creating a brand for her hometown. “I’m working with the city council to get us all on the same page,” she says. “We have fenceposts we’re working on together. And we identify every time we reach one.”

 

All the while, Fitzpatrick and Cook continue to manage their often-honored law firm, which has offices in both Arlington and Mansfield. Harris Cook, LLP, has built a reputation for professionalism and effectiveness in a wide range of legal matters to give clients a wealth of expertise when they have legal issues. Because the firm has a variety of practice areas to offer clients, the office can handle multiple legal isues for the same client.

Cook’s areas of practice include family law, business litigation/formation, real estate law and public sector law. Fitzpatrick is a skilled litigator with experience in a range of disciplines, including civil and commercial litigation, business formations, personal injury and estate planning.

In addition to their legal and civic endeavors, Cook and Fitzpatrick also are devoted family members and active participants in community projects.

Cook and wife Tonya have four grown children (Stefan, Blake, Cecilee and Christian). The mayor is the chair of the Arlington/Mansfield advisory council of the Salvation Army and helped start Mansfield Churches FOR the City, a group of pastors and churchgoers serving spiritual needs of the city of Mans-
field. He is enthusiastically involved with Mansfield Cares and volunteers with the Feed the Kids initiative that provides food for underprivileged children in the city.

Fitzpatrick and husband Ryan have two children (Ella, 11, and Claire, 4). She serves on the board of directors of the Central YMCA, Texas A&M Alumni Board, and the State Bar of Texas’ Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.

As the Vice President of the Arlington Bar Association, she also works with Mission Arlington and Legal Aid of North Texas, providing free legal service for those who can’t pay.

 

About Harris Cook, LLP

Senator Chris Harris

Arlington office: 709 E. Abram St. • (817) 275-8765

Mansfield office: 309 E. Broad St. • (817) 473-3332

Website: harriscooklaw.com • alamofeeattorney.com