Davis Santos, P.C. has earned its state-wide reputation as a firm of experienced trial attorneys that successfully litigates cases for its wide array of clients. When the partners decided to expand their practice areas to include estate planning and probate, they didn’t have to look very far. Patricia “Patty” Rouse Vargas, wife of shareholder Santos Vargas, was the ideal choice.
Prior to joining the firm, Patty Vargas enjoyed a years long relationship with the firm and its partners. The firm entrusted their estate planning and probate matters to her and she would often refer litigation matters to the firm. Each had confidence that the other would provide high-quality legal services to their respective clients. Eventually, it became clear that Patty Vargas should join the firm so that they could work directly together and expand the services available to their respective clients.
Patty Vargas says, “I have a transactional practice that deals with estate planning and probate and Santos handles business litigation, fiduciary litigation and litigation involving trusts and estates. In some ways, I see this as an opportunity for the two of us to bring our two backgrounds together to provide favorable results for our clients in our different practice areas.”
Prior to her joining, the firm focused almost exclusively on high stakes litigation, including commercial litigation, complex business litigation, fiduciary litigation, financial institution litigation, bankruptcy disputes and litigation, white collar defense, health care compliance and investigations, government investigations, cross-border litigation, civil rights and election law, crime victim advocacy, appeals, and tax controversy. The firm is excited that it can now add estate planning and probate to the array of legal services it provides.
Santos Vargas says, “We decided to bring Patty on to offer high quality estate planning and probate-related services for our existing clients, and so that we could provide high quality litigation services to Patty’s clients. And now we have a chance to merge those practice areas for the benefit of all our clients.”
The firm boasts several former assistant U.S. Attorneys, federal law clerks, appellate briefing attorneys, and in-house corporate attorneys. In addition, several of the firm’s attorneys hold degrees from prominent schools, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Texas, and Syracuse University to name a few.
Davis Santos, P.C. was founded in 2010 by Jason Davis, an experienced and prominent trial attorney, and Sarah Santos, a skilled litigator with expertise in banking and other commercial disputes. The firm is based in San Antonio, but the firm’s attorneys handle cases throughout the United States. Santos Vargas joined Davis Santos, P.C. in March of 2011. Patty Vargas joined in April of 2019.
“Patty spent her entire career building an estate planning and probate practice. My practice has been exclusively litigation. What we’ve found over the last several years is that our respective clients often have needs that the other provides. One of her clients, for example, may need help with a litigation matter. We’re able to help with that. By the same token, some of our litigation clients may have estate planning and probate needs. She’s able to help with those matters,” Santos Vargas says.
IT’S WHO YOU KNOW
Santos Vargas says most of the Davis Santos, P.C. partners knew each other before they joined the firm. “I joined because I had previously worked with (partner) Jason Davis’s wife, Sara Davis. Sara and I worked together at a large law firm in town and got to know each other well. Through Sara, I got to know her husband, Jason. Jason called me in 2010 and let me know he was starting a firm in San Antonio, and asked if I’d be interested in joining. I had a lot of respect for him, so I said absolutely.”
Partner, Sarah Santos had previously worked for large law firms, and was formerly in-house with a large international bank. She knew Jason Davis because, as an in-house attorney, she would often hire him to handle cases for the bank. One of the firm’s other partners, Mark Murphy, knew Jason Davis from law school and had previously practiced with Jason. The firm’s newest partner, and now managing partner, Caroline Small, was a natural addition because she, like Jason Davis, received her litigation training while serving as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Patty Vargas stressed how important the preexisting relationships are in building the firm. “I had been with my old firm since I graduated from law school and was not looking to move and yet when I was approached by them, knowing them so well made that decision possible. I knew and respected them and knew I would feel comfortable practicing with them. It wasn’t like jumping into the unknown. To put it another way, I would never have left my prior firm to join any firm other than this firm.”
NEVER GIVE UP
Davis Santos, P.C. is known for being tenacious in representing its clients. The firm’s attorneys pride themselves in always being fully prepared to go the distance if needed. Unlike many litigation firms, the attorneys at Davis Santos, P.C. frequently go to trial and are often brought in by other firms to handle hotly contested matters.
Santos Vargas says, “It’s something we share with our children – you never give up. You always keep trying. It’s important that we mirror that to them, and that means that we do that in our professions as well. I come from a fairly humble background and had to fight hard to get where I am. Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico who never had a chance to get an education when they were young. When I was growing up, I worked hard with them. They taught me that there was no other choice other than to work hard. That’s something that has stuck with me.”
The firm prides itself on finding outside-the-box solutions to client challenges. Patty Vargas says, “I know that it’s cliché, but we take a lot of unique approaches to legal challenges and issues that come in. We’re not the type of firm that handles the same type of client or issue over and over.”
That willingness to seek the best solution, combined with their reputation, brings in considerable work from other attorneys, especially those facing novel issues. A large percentage of the firm’s business comes from referrals from attorneys as well as existing or former clients. Patty Vargas says, “They trust us with their legal work. We work with a lot of other lawyers and firms to help them with their cases. That’s very common. Our ability to examine difficult legal issues and come up with successful and often unique approaches enables us to achieve favorable results for our clients.”
Santos Vargas says one of the keys to the firm’s success is the amount of time and effort they put into their cases. “We’re always highly prepared and very persistent in the work we do. We put out very high-quality legal work. When we step into the courtroom, we’re never unprepared.”