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K&L Gates Mourns Longtime Partner and Friend Vester Hughes

31 January 2017
Dallas - Global law firm K&L Gates LLP mourns the loss of longtime partner and respected tax lawyer Vester T. Hughes, who passed away this weekend at age 88. A name partner in the Texas law firm Hughes & Luce LLP, with which K&L Gates combined in January 2008, the soft-spoken and always-smiling Hughes was admired for a distinguished legal career that included work on the rewriting of the federal tax code relating to estate and gift tax law, the arguing of several landmark cases before the United States and Texas Supreme Courts and other federal appellate and trial courts, and being one of the few lawyers in modern American history routinely to represent his clients at the highest level in all three branches of the U.S. government, in addition to handling the estate counseling and planning for many prominent business and community leaders.

K&L Gates Chairman and Global Managing Partner Peter J. Kalis stated: “Law is a team sport. And thus any lawyer’s enduring legacy is defined not so much by his or her professional accomplishments as it is by the impact he or she has had on the hearts and minds of other human beings. Walk the halls of our Texas offices and learn first-hand about Vester’s enduring legacy. The depth of feeling toward Vester as a beloved and selfless mentor — a port in any lawyer’s stormy life — is unsurpassed in my experience. Men and women of great professional stature and personal bearing embraced Vester as a fixture in their personal universes. Let me assure you that this is not a generational quirk — the way things were in the old days. Old days or new, the man inspired a love among younger colleagues that will ring across the ages.”

Hughes’ decades of private practice spanned many aspects of federal taxation: income, estate, gift, and excise, individual and corporate. He argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as lead counsel in two additional cases before the court. He participated in litigation at all levels of trial and appellate courts, including arguing cases in U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. Claims Court, Texas Supreme Court, and other courts of administrative agencies, as well as presenting cases to Federal District courts and the United States Tax Court.

Before the legal profession generally thought of a separate policy practice, Hughes could be found within the halls of the U.S. Congress seeking legislative solutions to clients’ problems from the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, successfully lobbying Congress on several occasions on behalf of clients to amend the federal tax laws. He regularly visited the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, and was called on by staff members of the Treasury Department and the Congressional tax-writing committees for his views on tax policy and pending legislation not directly affecting any specific client but as a public interest commentator.

In 1952, Hughes graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as Editor of the Harvard Law Review and studied under Professor Stanley Surrey. After serving in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as a Law Clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, Hughes turned his attention to the private practice of law in his native Texas. In 1976, he joined with the firm that became Hughes & Luce, and helped grow that firm into one of Texas’s finest, with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin at the time of the firm’s combination with K&L Gates (with the firm adding its fourth Texas office in Houston in early 2013).

“Vester impacted generations with his wisdom and grace,” said Craig W. Budner, a Dallas partner and K&L Gates’ Global Integration and Strategic Growth Partner. “His leadership was felt not just in the excellence with which he practiced law, but with his constant focus on the difference he could make in each interaction. It is no surprise that when our leaders in government, industry, or in any other walk of life needed counsel, Vester was their first call.”

Hughes was also very active in his community, having served on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations and companies, and as a visiting Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University Law School lecturing in federal taxation. He authored many publications relating to federal taxation and lectured at numerous Tax Institutes and Estate Council meetings, in addition to serving on the council or as chairman or as a member of various taxation sections and committees of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, the Dallas Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the Center for American and International Law/Southwestern Legal Foundation, among others. To read more about Hughes’ career and community/professional involvements, please see his bio on the K&L Gates website.

John E. Garda, Administrative Partner of K&L Gates’ Dallas office, commented: “Vester was a legend both at our firm and within the entire legal community, not just in Dallas, but nationally. What he provided more than anything else was a spirit of good will throughout our firm, and he had an incredible impact on the lives of all of us.”

A service for Hughes will take place Monday, Feb. 6, at 2:00 pm at Park Cities Baptist Church, 3933 Northwest Pkwy., Dallas, TX 75225. 

K&L Gates comprises approximately 2,000 lawyers globally who practice in fully integrated offices located on five continents. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, growth and middle-market companies, capital markets participants and entrepreneurs in every major industry group as well as public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and individuals. 
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