James M Bell Sr - Texas Attorney
James Michael Bell, Sr. was born, a long time ago, far out on the windy, hot, dusty, sometimes cold (but always windy), flat, sun-blasted plains of West Texas in the middle-sized town of Odessa, in the heart of the Permian Basin, a large area of oil & gas development and production stretching into New Mexico as well.
Mike started working early, as a teenager, first doing yards in rapidly growing Odessa, then as the first employee for a start-up pest control business, then for a lumber yard and finally as a roustabout and roughneck in the oil fields and on the drilling rigs surrounding Odessa. When it came time, he went off to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, next door to a little school called Harvard (never having been further east than Dallas).
After a brief stint at MIT, Mike returned to Texas to enter the University of Texas in Austin (UT) undergraduate business school and then attended UT Law School. During his college days, he took a year off from UT to go to Alaska and work as a roughneck on a brand-new drilling rig purchased and built for the newly-opening Alaska oilfields. He spent a great year there in the far Northwest!
Following his formal legal education, after graduation, he was selected by one of the Judges of the Texas Supreme Court to be his briefing attorney (fancy term for law clerk) and spent a year and a half there. This was the start of his real legal education because, in contrast with the United States Supreme Court, where all deliberations are in secret, the nine judges of the Texas Supreme Court allowed their briefing attorneys to sit in on their deliberations on cases and to contribute to and participate in them as well. This was where the rubber met the road!
At the end of his broadening experience with the Texas Supreme Court, Mike was lucky enough to be hired by a well-known firm in San Antonio called Cox & Smith. Mike found himself doing a lot of work for Mr. Johnny Cox in the area of land titles for oil & gas companies. This was fascinating work – like assembling a jigsaw puzzle of the history of Texas land, all the way back to the beginnings of Texas under the Spanish Crown. Mike also helped another partner in his work in Wills & Estates, including helping try a will contest or two during the early years of his practice.
At a point in the middle of his law career he was hired into the Hixon Family company as an investment manager which eventually segued into a venture capital endeavor which lasted for a number of years. After that, at a time in his life when he had time available, a close friend asked Mr Bell to do some legal work for him, which lead to representing the friend in a lawsuit that had to be filed to cause a large estate administration that had been going on for about fifty years to be wound up, accounted for and distributed. This brought Mr Bell back into the practice of law. He remembered that he liked it … and was still good at it!
Shortly thereafter, Mr Bell found himself again practicing Wills & Probate & Estate Planning as well as Real Estate transactions, and Oil & Gas with the seasoning and wisdom of a grey-headed old guy. The rest is history!
- Briefing Attorney at Supreme Court of Texas, 1965-1966
- University of Texas Law School, LLB, 1965
- University of Texas, BbA, Business with Mechanical Engineering, 1963
- Texas Bar Association, Member
- San Antonio Bar Association, Member
- Texas Growth Fund, Chairman, Austin, Texas
- National Venture Capital Association, Past Chairman and President
- San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, Past President
- Texas Governor's Advisory Committee on Science and Technology