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Overview

Steve Wolens is a Principal in the Dallas office of McKool Smith. His practice involves the representation of clients in complex class-action claims and commercial litigation. He is peer-reviewed as an AV rated lawyer by Martindale Hubbell.

Mr. Wolens served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1981 until 2005. During his lengthy public service, he authored landmark legislation covering partnerships and limited liability corporations, ethics reforms, antitrust laws and electric deregulation.

Texas Monthly magazine named him as one of the "Ten Best Legislators" in Texas on six different occasions, writing in 2003: “At the end of the session, he passed the best ethics bill in the history of the Texas Legislature…One of the great legislators of the modern era logged another big win.”

Steve currently serves as Chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission. He was appointed to the Commission by House Speaker Joe Straus in 2016 and subsequently elected Chair twice by his fellow Commissioners. The Ethics Commission oversees compliance with laws concerning personal financial disclosures, political contributions and expenditures of state elected officials, judges, and certain local officeholders and candidates; it also reviews lobbying reports and activities.

Steve was born in Dallas and grew up in Corsicana, where his family founded the K. Wolens department stores. During high school, he served as a page in the U.S. Congress and worked in the Washington office of Congressman Olin Teague. He is married to the former Mayor of the City of Dallas, Laura Miller. They have three children.

Steve led a national effort to hold the internet travel companies (OTCs) accountable for hotel occupancy taxes that were not remitted to governmental authorities as required by local ordinances and state law. He was the lead attorney in a certified class action that went to a successful jury verdict in 2009, representing San Antonio and 172 other Texas municipalities against the OTCs for delinquent taxes. The verdict was overturned in 2017 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Steve also represents the State of Hawaii and the City of San Francisco, among other governmental entities, in similar litigation.

Prior to joining McKool Smith, Mr. Wolens handled complex toxic tort litigation in addition to numerous class-action lawsuits. He has served as lead counsel in thousands of individual toxic tort cases heard throughout the United States.

Recognition

Rankings & Honors

  • Named a "Texas Litigation Star" by Benchmark Plaintiff, 2012 
  • Texas Super Lawyers, Law & Politics Media Inc. and Texas Monthly, 2003-2013
  • Ten Best Legislators, Texas Monthly, 1983, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2003
  • Outstanding Legislator of the 78th Texas Legislature, AARP Texas Chapter, 2003
  • Legislator of the Year, Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association, 2001
  • Legislator of the Year, National Retail Federation, 1999
  • Legislator of the Year, Texas Municipal League, 1999
  • Public Service Achievement Award, Common Cause, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999
  • Legislative Crime Fighter of the Year, Greater Dallas Crime Commission, 1991, 1993
  • Outstanding Legislator, Texas Business, 1983

Interviews

Electric Deregulation Is Working in Texas, Says Lawmaker Who Led the Effort”, Texas Monthly, August 6, 2018.

Bottled Up, The Battle Over Dublin Dr Pepper”, 2014, documentary film.

Media & Events

Articles

Education

J.D., Southern Methodist University School of Law, 1976

B.A., with distinction, Stanford University, 1973

Court Admissions

  • State of Texas
  • The U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Bar Associations

  • Dallas Bar Association
  • State Bar of Texas
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