FEWA Houston Chapter 2019 Workshop

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Chapter Event: Houston

2019 Houston Chapter Workshop

April 18th from 8:15am until 3:00pm

FEWA Houston’s 2019 Workshop will be held on April 18th from 8:30am until 3:00pm at our new private venue adjacent to Collinas Italian Café in the Houston Heights north of downtown. Six hours of instruction will be provided.

Collinas will be providing a buffet breakfast in the morning and your menu selection from a wide variety of Italian cuisine for lunch.


8:15 am - 8:50 am: Registration, Breakfast & Networking
8:50 am: Program Introduction
9:00 am:  “When Experts Are Heroes: Providing Genuine Assistance to the Judicial Process and Exceptional Value to their Clients.”

In this interactive segment attorney Jim Smith, shareholder at Crain, Caton & James returns to FEWA to explore examples of expert witnesses being truly helpful to the truth-seeking process in pre-trial and at trial, and by doing so bringing exceptional value to their clients. Jim is a specialist in environmental and construction litigation.

10:30 am: “Twelve Steps for Surviving Cross-examination.”  

No matter how many (or few) times you’ve been deposed, there’s always another trap to step into or over.  Houston attorney Stephanie Harp will discuss steps or tips for surviving cross-examination applicable to most cross-examination scenarios. Stephanie specializes in commercial litigation, construction law, contract, insurance defense and coverage, and subrogation litigation

11:30 am “Expert Ethics – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” 

FEWA Chapter president John McReynolds, past president Bob James and construction company owner and expert witness Jeff Hunt will conduct an interactive roundtable discussion around eight elusive and often unexpected ethical pitfalls that can harm attorney client relationships, impact performance and business opportunity, and even attract legal action.

12:30 pm “Perfecting a Written Expert Report.

Melanie Bragg, a published writing expert and owner and attorney at Bragg Law PC will address appropriate use of language, proper formation of text and effective presentation of opinions in the expert’s written report of opinions and the bases for the opinions. Melanie’s Houston civil law practice focusses on disputes arising in mediation, arbitration, probate, guardianships, and small business work.

1:30 pm “Workflow and Progress of Litigation for Experts.”

Attorney, arbitrator and engineer Debra B. Norris, a frequent speaker on legal issues in the construction industry, will discuss the basics of the attorney/expert relationship throughout the various stages of the litigation process. Debra is an adjunct Professor of Construction Law at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering. 

3:00 pm: Workshop Completion


James E. Smith

James (Jim) Smith principally focuses on environmental matters including counseling, supporting transactions, and trying cases. He also has experience in intellectual property matters and is registered before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a patent attorney.  His degree in chemical engineering combined with his legal experience enable him to bring a unique perspective as he represents refining, petrochemical and other resource related industry clients.

He counsels corporate as well as individual clients on a variety of environmental issues, in addition to trying and arguing appeals in both civil and criminal matters and in both state and federal courts. Jim has appeared before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Railroad Commission of Texas, and other administrative agencies in permitting and enforcement matters.

Jim’s practice concerns all major environmental media. His trial and transaction work has involved air quality, water quality, hazardous and solid waste, wetlands, and other permitting and enforcement matters, as well as state and federal Superfund cases. He has facilitated closures under the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program and has assisted with plume management zones and Municipal Settings Designations.

Jim has handled many appellate cases, and has been the lead oral advocate before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the Supreme Court of Texas, and several Texas Courts of Appeals.  His appellate practice has included both civil and criminal environmental cases, as well as non-environmental matters. Jim has been listed in Chambers USA in Environmental Litigation since 2005.  He has been selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers since 2003 and Best Lawyers in America in Environmental Law since 1995.

Stephanie M. Harp

For well over a decade Stephanie M. Harp has been handling commercial and construction litigation, insurance defense, first party coverage litigation, subrogation and personal injury cases from initial referral through trial and appeal with success in  1st chair jury, bench trials, and appeals.

Mrs. Harp specializes in efficient resolution of most matters but, when necessary, will take your case to the jury.

She is admitted to practice in the State of Texas, all four Federal districts within the State of Texas in District and Bankruptcy court as well as before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

John McReynolds, CGR, GMB, CFLC, 

John McReynolds is the owner of Construction Defect Consultants LC. Mr. McReynolds is a construction defect consultant and expert witness with more than twenty-five years of hands-on, technical, managerial and executive experience in homebuilding, remodeling, and property claims adjusting. This experience has provided him with unique qualifications to address any aspect of construction in the residential and commercial building sectors. Since 1989 he has held principal positions in custom home and remodeling firms and has provided home building consulting and subrogation and liability mitigation support as a construction expert. 

Mr. McReynolds is a Certified Graduate Remodeler and Graduate Master Builder, he has conducted homebuilding and remodeling instruction engagements for Houston Community College and for city and statewide homebuilder’s associations. He has held director and officer positions in state and local builders’ associations and their remodelers’ councils.

Mr. McReynolds holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and certifications and/or licenses in remodeling, master building, infrared thermography, insurance claims adjustment and forensic litigation consulting. He has experience with numerous construction and civic related associations, and professional organizations. 

Robert James PE, CFLC

Mr. James has technical, managerial and executive experience in engineering, procurement and construction of global capital ventures. Bob provides litigation support services to counsel for engineering and construction related claims and disputes, concentrating primarily on contract administration, project management and controls, and practical applications of the engineering, procurement and construction (“EPC”) process.

His focus has involved disputed matters between owners and contractors in energy & chemicals and commercial business sectors. Engagements have involved independent and objective advisory services, expert reports, and testimony in deposition and court on a wide range of matters involving contract disputes, construction health and safety issues, procurement of industrial equipment, proprietary engineering information, engineering errors and omissions, contractor selection procedures and management of the EPC process for mega-industrial projects.

Jeff Hunt

Since 2011, Mr. Hunt has provided consulting and testifying expert services to twenty-five law firms throughout Texas, representing over 175 clients. During this time, he has given sworn testimony 13 times in both state and federal courts and has established a track record of successful verdicts and settlements on both sides of the aisle. 

Mr. Hunt has proven to be extremely resolute under rigorous cross-examination. His exceptional communication skills, ability to simplify complex issues and teaching experience make him equally effective in depositions and at trial. His extensive construction experience, education, and previous consulting experience all combine to make him highly effective at forensic investigations and analysis, which in turn leads to well-researched and fact-based solutions.

In 2017, Mr. Hunt attended an intensive Alternative Dispute Resolution training course conducted by New Mexico-based Construction Dispute Resolution Services (CDRS), the largest construction-centric dispute resolution firm in the country. He was trained in various ADR methods including arbitration and mediation and their variants, dispute review boards, and construction settlement panels. Since becoming a member of the CDRS National Panel, he has successfully conducted several new home warranty arbitrations.

Regardless of the assignment, Mr. Hunt always furnishes an unbiased and honest assessment and goes above and beyond by providing the most accurate information, ensuring that his client’s side of the issue is represented properly in the courtroom. He gives his clients the upper hand by assisting them with case preparation, demonstrative development, direct and cross-examination questions, and deposition questions.

Melanie Bragg

Melanie Bragg practices mediation, arbitration, probate, guardianships, small business work including business entity formation, real estate, employment law, and securities arbitration at Bragg Law. She also serves on the Children at Risk Law & Public Policy Board and loves to be involved with a group who works so hard to help children in Texas.

Melanie Bragg obtained her Bachelors of Science from the University of Texas at Austin with Honors in 1978 and her Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston Law Center in 1982. After serving a year as a Briefing Attorney for the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas, Melanie started her own law practice. She worked in the civil, criminal, probate and family courts. Melanie is often appointed by the district and county judges to represent minor children, incapacitated elderly or mentally ill people. In addition she is appointed mediator in a variety of disputes which gives her a unique background in the law as a whole.


Debra Norris

Debra B. Norris, P.C., Attorney at Law, combines her engineering and legal backgrounds in a technically-oriented law practice. An electrical engineer, Debra spent ten years building plants for the oil, gas, and chemical industries. Debra earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, magna cum laude, from Louisiana Tech University and a B.A. in Physics, cum laude, from Centenary College in 1984. She obtained her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1998, receiving the Dean's Achievement Award in Evidence.

Debra now represents individuals and corporations in a variety of legal matters, with special focus on construction law. Ms. Norris represents owners, suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals in the construction industry.

Ms. Norris has taught "Construction Law" in the graduate school of civil and environmental engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston since 2005 and is a frequent speaker on legal issues related to the construction industry.

Ms. Norris is licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Southern District of Texas. With a ten-year background as an engineer, Debra is available as an arbitrator in a variety of technical disputes

Debra Bourn Norris has been recognized as a Top Houston Lawyer in construction law by "H Texas" magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

This course has been approved for 6 CFLC Credits. 

This course has been approved for 5.25 hrs. of MCLE credits, State Bar Course # 174047386


Collina's Italian Cafe

 502 W 19th Street

Houston, TX 77008


Advance Registration
Member price: $115.00
Non-member price: $125.00

On-site Registration
Member price: $125.00
Non-member price: $135.00

Online registration is now closed.

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