As a key member of Ajamie LLP, Dona Szak handles a range of complex business controversies over the course of any given year. Dona has acquired a depth of experience in a wide variety of industries and business practices, and guides the firm’s clients through difficult commercial challenges with a strategic and meticulous approach.
Dona is an experienced commercial litigator who has handled claims such as breach of contract, securities fraud, money laundering and business torts relating to a broad range of industry sectors, including oil and gas, energy, financial services and sports. As legal counsel to the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee, Dona negotiated and prepared contracts, counseled on litigation matters, and advised the committee on other legal aspects of managing the multi-million-dollar week-long event. She regularly advises in connection with regulatory litigation, bankruptcy disputes and environmental litigation, and has steered numerous clients through the process of resolving difficult contract disputes without the need for litigation, thereby allowing the clients to preserve their business relationships.
- Washington & Lee University, J.D., cum laude, 1984
- Editor, Washington & Lee Law Review
- University of Houston, L.L.M. (Taxation), 2005
- University of Illinois, B.A. (Economics), 1980
- University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1980
- Texas, 1984
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- Represented an oil shale production company in a dispute with an international development partner over a set of contracts to commercialize a technology to extract oil from solid sedimentary rock. Under the contracts, the development partner was responsible for funding a major portion of the project, and it indicated that it did not intend to follow through with certain contractual commitments. Had that happened, this major project would have been brought to a standstill. Our client settled its dispute with the development partner and terminated the contracts in order to successfully continue the project.
- Member of the legal team that recovered over $173.8 million for investors in the Cobalt International Energy, Inc. securities class action litigation. Our clients alleged that the defendants violated the federal securities laws by, among other things, misstating and concealing facts on Cobalt’s partnership with Angolan government officials and the productivity of Cobalt’s Angolan oil and gas wells. United States District Court Judge Nancy Atlas lauded the lawyers’ work when she said “Plaintiffs’ counsel conducted the litigation and achieved the settlements with skill, perseverance and diligent advocacy.”
- Legal counsel to the Super Bowl LI Houston Host Committee providing a wide range of legal services for this multi-billion dollar event, including preventive litigation counseling, risk management, contract negotiation and liability prevention advice for the tens of thousands of workers and volunteers involved in events leading up to and including the big game.
- Obtained dismissal of an investor’s claims arising from default in payment of commercial paper issued by a foreign corporation.
- Co-counsel in ERISA action alleging that plan fiduciaries breached duties of loyalty and prudence by selecting and maintaining inappropriate funds for company’s 401(k) plan.
- Resolved claims that clients committed fraud and civil RICO violations.
- Recovered investment losses sustained by a corporation and its pension fund resulting from a hedge fund’s collapse.
- Represented an automotive parts supplier in a lawsuit against a major automobile manufacturer for misrepresentation and breach of contract. Negotiated a business resolution of the parties’ dispute.
- Obtained dismissal of claims that the firm’s client breached a contract to sell shares of corporate stock.
- Recovered payment of suppliers’ claims against companies that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy through use of essential vendor and foreign vendor orders.
- Recovered damages owed due to supplier’s delivery of substandard raw materials.
- Defended a professional sports figure against a former assistant’s claims for breach of contract and harassment.
- Obtained dismissal for want of personal jurisdiction in several actions brought against non-resident companies.
- Advised foreign corporations on obligations under United States antitrust law arising from transactions with United States businesses.
- Advised domestic and foreign companies on compliance with anti-corruption laws.
- Advised foreign financial services firms on compliance with United States laws and regulations on asset control and anti-money laundering.
- Prepared contracts, settled contract disputes and resolved sales issues arising under the Uniform Commercial Code and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.
- Represented creditors in bankruptcy proceedings.
- Resolved claims involving allegations of environmental contamination, property devaluation and toxic releases.
- Represented clients before state and federal regulatory agencies.
PUBLICATIONS, SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS
- Co-Author, “Benefits of Preventative Legal Counselling,” BUSINESS RESOURCE: Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution 2016
- Author, “Preparing for Securities Litigation,” State Bar of Texas Advanced Business Law, November 2013
- Presenter, “The Attorney-Client Privilege for In House Attorneys,” Association of Corporate Counsel’s National Litigation Committee Meeting, 2012
- Author, “Will Rule 10b-5 Go Global? The Status of Private Rights of Action after Morrison v. National Australia Bank,” The Advocate, State Bar Litigation Section Report, Vol. 59, Summer 2012
- Author, “What Employers Need to Know About the Dodd-Frank Act,” University of Texas School of Law Labor and Employment Law Conference, 2011
- Author, “Asserting the Fifth Amendment in Civil Proceedings,” ABA’s Energy Litigation Newsletter, 2010
- Author, “Minimizing Liability in Fleet Operations,” Fleet Financials, 2010
OTHER ATTORNEY EXPERIENCE
- ChevronTexaco, Senior Counsel (1989-2002)
- Ross, Banks, May, Cron & Cavin, PC (1985-1989)
- Intern – Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
MEMBERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY
- State Bar of Texas
- American Bar Association
- Houston Bar Association
- Turnaround Management Association
- 500 Leading Lawyers in America (Lawdragon)
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rating – An AV certification is a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank the individual to be at the highest level of professional excellence.