UHLC alum McKibben '69 relishes induction to trial advocacy organization

Ned Barnett ‘87

James F. McKibben, Jr. '69

Sept. 27, 2017 -- James F. McKibben, Jr. '69 was indecisive when picking a major as an undergraduate at the University of Houston.

His post-graduate plans were much clearer.
"When my high school counselor asked me what I wanted to do, I told her I wanted to be a lawyer," he said. "I changed my major a lot of times, but eventually earned a degree in business. I was told there was no point in going to law school, because lawyers are a dime a dozen. I decided to go anyway."

The groundbreaking for an on-campus law school building began the year McKibben graduated. He attended law school in the basement of the M.D. Anderson Library. McKibben said he believes that setting made him and his classmates closer.

"It seemed like there was a camaraderie because it was a smaller school at the time," he said. "Our total student body was around 425 or 450 when I enrolled and not much more when I left. We occasionally had classes in other buildings, but were usually in the basement."

As an alumnus, McKibben has made an impact as a member of the Dean's Society, which consists of an exclusive group of alumni and friends of the Law Center who are committed to providing significant support.

"I appreciate what the Law Center has done for me," McKibben said. "If it hadn't been for the law school, all my other options involved heavy lifting and the hot sun."

McKibben currently practices in Corpus Christi at a firm he started with his colleagues — McKibben, Martinez, Jarvis & Wood L.L.P. He specializes in employment law, civil rights and personal injury defense.

In March, McKibben was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. The organization is an invitation only fellowship of exceptional trial lawyers of diverse backgrounds from the U.S. and Canada. The college thoroughly investigates each nominee for admission and selects only those who have demonstrated the highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism and collegiality.

While McKibben has received a number of accolades throughout his career, he said he considers this to be his most distinguished honor.

"The standards include civility, ethics, and avoiding any kind of hint of impropriety with the bar association," McKibben said. "It means your peers think you're a good and ethical lawyer, and it's a long process to get that reputation.

"Fortunately, I have some friends in the practice that have a high opinion of me and having your peers honor you and respect you is extremely special."