For the last 50 years, almost every newsy civil case in Fort Worth has involved either L. Clifford Davis or Dee J. Kelly.
As the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the notorious 1956 Mansfield school desegregation case and later in Fort Worth, Davis helped open the doors of all-white schools to African-American students.
Some victories took longer than others, but Davis was the lawyer who eventually won almost every local case of the civil-rights era. He went on to a 14-year career as a district judge.
Kelly served in the Korean War and then served as an aide to U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, setting the stage for a 51-year Fort Worth law career.
Since then, Kelly and his law firm of Kelly, Hart & Hallman have represented almost every major business and philanthropy in Tarrant County. Kelly has served on the board of American Airlines, the Cliburn, Justin Industries and the Stock Show.
Now, both Davis and Kelly will be honored with Texas Lawyer’s Professional Excellence Award: Lifetime Achievement.
As lawyers, Davis and Kelly have helped shape Fort Worth and Texas.