2023 Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer

The Texas Tax Section Congratulates the 2023 Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer Hon. Elizabeth Copeland, United States Tax Court

The Texas Tax Section has selected Judge Elizabeth Copeland of the United States Tax Court as the Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer for 2023.

Judge Copeland was sworn in on October 12, 2018 for a fifteen-year term. She was first nominated by President Obama and, after that nomination expired, was renominated by President Trump. Judge Copeland is licensed and Board Certified in Tax Law in Texas and practiced in San Antonio for over twenty years before her appointment to the bench. Judge Copeland regularly returns to Texas for calendar calls and speaking engagements.

Among Judge Copeland’s many achievements, she started the Texas State Bar Tax Court Pro Bono Program and then worked with the American Bar Association to expand that program nationally, thereby serving thousands of pro se taxpayers. During her Senate Finance Committee hearing, Judge Copeland described this program as one of her “most treasured accomplishments,” and the program is still thriving today. The American Bar Association Tax Section recognized her efforts by awarding her the Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award in 2009. In addition, Tax Analysts named her one of the 2012 Tax Persons of the Year in its national edition of Tax Notes.

Judge Copeland served in many leadership positions for the Texas Tax Section, including Chair for the 2013-14 term. She also held leadership positions in the American Bar Association’s Tax Section, including the Committee for Appointments to the Tax Court. Additionally, Judge Copeland
  • was named San Antonio Tax Lawyer of the Year in 2011, 2017 and 2018 by Best Lawyers;
  • was recognized by Thompson Reuters as a San Antonio Super Lawyer, 2003-2018;
  • was recognized by S.A. Scene Magazine as one of San Antonio’s Best Tax Law Attorneys, 2004-2018; and
  • received the 2010 Belva Lockwood Outstanding Lawyer award from the Bexar County Women’s Bar Association (she was also awarded the 1998 Belva Lockwood Outstanding Young Lawyer Award).
Judge Copeland began her legal career as an attorney-adviser to Judge Mary Ann Cohen at the United States Tax Court from 1992 to 1993. From 1993 to 2012, she practiced law with the firm of Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison & Tate, Inc. (OBHT), becoming a shareholder in 2000. While at OBHT, she served as an adjunct professor at Our Lady of the Lake University from 1997-1999. In 2012, the shareholders of OBHT joined forces with Strasburger & Price, LLP (later becoming known as Clark Hill, PLC), where she practiced from 2012 to 2018. As a private practitioner, Judge Copeland had a national reputation as a very highly regarded tax controversy lawyer and handled all types of federal income tax cases. She regularly spoke to women and Hispanic groups and gained a special expertise in innocent spouse cases.

Judge Copeland received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, cum laude, in 1986 from the University of Texas at Austin. She received a Juris Doctor degree in 1992 from the University of Texas School of Law. Before attending law school, she worked at Ernst & Whinney (now EY) first in San Antonio and then in Dallas from 1986 to 1989. She became a Certified Public Accountant in 1988. While attending law school, she received the Fulbright and Jaworski Outstanding Second Year Law Student award in 1991 and served as a law clerk to Justice Cook of the Texas Supreme Court. She was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1992.

Judge Copeland has distinguished herself as a United States Tax Court Judge, as an advocate for her clients and for pro se taxpayers, and as a leader among Texas tax lawyers. Her nomination and renomination as a Tax Court judge was extraordinary and speaks to the strength of her skillset and her bipartisan nature. As a Tax Court judge, Judge Copeland believes that tax cases should be resolved impartially and that both taxpayers and government attorneys should be treated with respect. Judge Copeland’s outstanding character and legal skills make her an Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer.

Past Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer Honorees

We are pleased to recognize and provide more information about our previous honorees:
2022 William P. Bowers 
2021 Mary McNulty
2020 David G. Glickman
2019 William H. Caudill and William P. Streng
2018 Cynthia Morgan Ohlenforst
2017 William D. ("Bill") Elliott
2016 Louise Hytken
2015 Sander Shapiro
2014 Hon. Juan F. Vasquez
2013 Ira B. Shepard (deceased)
2012 Emily Parker
2011 Stanley M. Johanson
2010 Charles O. Galvin (deceased)
2009 Stanley L. Blend
2008 Steve Salch (deceased)
2007 Buford P. Berry (deceased)
2007 Ron Kalteyer (deceased)
2006 Charles Hall
2003 Vester T. Hughes, Jr. (deceased)

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