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Whellan joins Armbrust & Brown

Friday, January 12, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today, Armbrust & Brown PLLC announced that attorney Michael Whellan, who is a former president and shareholder of Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody will be joining their firm on Jan. 15.

It’s a big change for Whellan, who is well-known at City Hall, where he has represented an array of clients including, among many others, Texas Disposal Systems, the Champion sisters and developers of the Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development and downtown Marriott Hotel. He has been at Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody for his entire 26-year career.

“This was not an easy decision at all for me, personally,” he said. He explained that his decision was based on the respect that he has for the firm, David Armbrust, fellow attorney Richard Suttle and the land planning leadership of Amanda Morrow. The firm has a long list of high-profile clients that include Major League Soccer, Circuit of the Americas, the Champion tract and Austin City Limits Live.

Whellan and Suttle sat down with the Austin Monitor to talk about the change. Though they have never worked together before and have only competed for work in the past, both were optimistic about the new dynamic.

“We have core values that I think are in sync in terms of connecting with neighborhoods and finding ways to be respectful and thoughtful with city staff and with electeds,” said Whellan. “That, I think, will play out over the next many, many years.”

Whether Whellan will take his prominent clients with him when he officially starts on Jan. 15 remains to be seen, and is up to the clients. But he told the Monitor that he is looking forward to being able to work on large projects with the benefit of Suttle’s insight which, he said, “is going to really, really help our clients.”

“Working with Richard, I just think that we have a little bit of a different approach, different personalities, and I think the scope and breadth of our relationships will be able to help one another,” he said.

Suttle agreed, and saw the move in a larger context as well.

“As the city’s structure has changed, going to 10-1, there’s more government, there’s more process,” added Suttle. “There’s CodeNEXT coming up, maybe, and it’s an opportunity to expand and move with the way our city is growing. Our city’s getting bigger, our government is getting bigger (and) we’re adapting.”

“I think it’s great,” said Suttle. “We do this because it’s fun, and we get to have a hand in how the city is shaped.” Whellan agreed with this sentiment. He said that being on a team that’s engaged in the evolution of Central Texas “will be a lot of fun.”

“This just felt like an opportunity that I just needed to grab ahold of,” he said. “Maybe it’s my midlife crisis, getting married to Richard Suttle.”

Travis Phillips, a former shareholder of Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody who is a transactional commercial real estate attorney, will also be joining Armbrust & Brown.

Photo by LoneStarMike (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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