The Texas Association of Counties’ Legal Department staff may be able to provide a speaker for your organization on county-related legal topics. To request a speaker or inquire about training for your organization, complete the form at the bottom of the page.
See our Legal Department Speakers list of speakers and their areas of expertise.
Garry Merritt, General Counsel
Before joining the Association, Merritt served as Real County judge from 2011 to 2017. He previously served as Real County attorney from 2001 to 2010 and as assistant district attorney in the 38th Judicial District from 2004 to 2006. He is the past president of Middle Rio Grande Development Council, a former board chairman of Southwest Area Regional Transit District and the current president of Hill Country Alliance. He was a member of the Judicial Education Committee for the Texas Association of Counties and is a frequent speaker at judicial education programs.
Specialty Topics: Criminal Law, Procedure, County Budget, Probate, Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act
Jenny Gilchrist, Associate General Counsel
Gilchrist rejoined TAC after spending eight years working with the City of Austin Law Department both as an assistant city attorney and as division chief for the Municipal Operations Division. She has also worked at the Attorney General’s Office as a team leader in the General Counsel Division and with Gov. Ann Richards’ Policy Council and Ombudsman’s Office. Gilchrist was in private practice before she specialized in public sector law.
Specialty Topics: Ethics, Open Meetings Act, Public Information Act, Conflicts of Interest and Employment Law
Katherine Howard, Associate General Counsel
Howard’s legal career began in the Texas Attorney General’s Office in tort litigation, followed by a move to Allison, Bass & Associates defending counties and elected officials in state and federal courts. Most recently, Howard worked for the Naval Air Warfare Centers in California and Maryland.
Specialty Topics: Federal Law, Cyber Security and Law Enforcement
Paul Miles, Associate General Counsel
Miles worked at the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office for 19 years advising state, county and local officials, candidates and the general public in election law and procedures. Miles has been a frequent speaker at statewide conferences, including those conducted for regional election officials. He has been with TAC since 2012.
Specialty Topics: Election Law, Special and Dedicated Funds, County Budget and Tax Rate, Ethics and Conflicts Disclosure
Michael Pichinson, Associate General Counsel
Before joining the Association in 2011, Pichinson was the general counsel for Rodman LLC in Dallas. Prior to that, he was the general counsel for the Texas Conference of Urban Counties. Pichinson began his legal career in the public sector, serving as the first assistant county attorney of Liberty County for eight years.
Specialty Topics: Legislative Affairs, Competitive Bidding, Conflicts Disclosure and Eminent Domain
Jamie Chandler, Paralegal
Chandler joined TAC in 2010, working first as Legal Librarian, Legislative Intern and Legislative Operations Manager before returning to the Legal Department in 2014. Chandler earned her Paralegal Certificate from the University of Texas Professional Development Center in 2014, and her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications & Leadership from St. Edward’s University in 2018.
Specialty Topics: Legal & Legislative Research, Records Management, Open Meetings Act Public Information Act
Kristi Shepperson, Legal & Legislative Services Operations Manager, Paralegal
Shepperson was certified as an Employment Law Specialist by the University of Texas Center for Professional Education in 2017. She began her career by working for several private practice attorneys. Before joining TAC in 2005, Shepperson was a paralegal for the Travis County Attorney’s Office. She earned her Paralegal Certificate in 1995 from the University of Texas Professional Development Center. In 2007, Shepperson earned her Certified Paralegal Credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants.
Specialty Topics: Legal research, Nepotism, Employment Law, and Law Enforcement