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The City Attorney’s Office has more than 200 years of combined legal experience and more than 130 years combined municipal law experience. The Office has held the merit certification in Municipal Law from the Texas City Attorneys Association since 2000, and each of our attorneys has also been recommended for merit certification. Our attorneys have a balanced background of experience from both the public and private sectors.


The Office is divided into two divisions – the Transactional Division and the Litigation Division – each of which is divided into sections based on areas of practice.

  • Transactional Division
    The Transactional Division provides legal services a variety of areas including and not limited to intergovernmental relations and legislative issues, public infrastructure, real estate, ordinances, telecommunications, procurement, and public utilities. The Division drafts and reviews relevant resolutions, contracts, permits, and other legal documents, and provides legal assistance to the departmental clients, City Council, City Manager, and boards and commission. The Division provides legal opinions, legal research, and updates to all of our clients, including providing information relevant to the law as it applies to each issue. The Transactional Division works to provide accurate, cost-effective, efficient, advice, and recommendations.
  • Litigation Division
    The Litigation Division provides legal representation to the City of Denton and City employees in state and federal courts and processes and litigates claims by or against the City. The Division minimizes the financial responsibility of the City by seeking proactive effective, and beneficial resolutions in all claims and cases brought against the City. The Litigation Division specializes in dispute resolution, negotiation, and civil litigation.

Meet Our Team

  • Aaron Leal, City Attorney
    image of Aaron Leal city attorneyAaron Leal serves as the City Attorney. He leads and supervises attorneys and staff organized in two major functional divisions (Transactions and Litigation) created within the City Attorney’s Office to optimize effective delivery of legal services. He is responsible for management of the Office, including the selection, training, and evaluation of all staff.

    Aaron also serves as the chief legal advisor to the City Council and City Manager. He presents legal opinions to City Council, boards and commissions, and City staff related to City operations to ensure compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the City Charter and Code of Ordinances. He also negotiates and resolves legal concerns with outside private attorneys, special interest groups, customers, and the general public.

    Before being appointed to the City Attorney position, Aaron served as the City’s in-house land use attorney and was legal counsel for the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustments. He also served as City’s representative on two Texas Municipal League Legislative Policy Committees (Regulation of Development and General Government) for 2012-2013 and 2014-2015.  During his time as the land use attorney, he was also one of the key members involved in the continuing annexation of 18 geographical land areas comprising approximately 9,035 acres.
       
    Aaron was also one of the key members in developing the comprehensive amendments to the City’s Gas Well Drilling and Production Ordinance in 2013 and 2015 and was heavily involved in litigating a citizen-initiative Hydraulic Fracturing Ban Ordinance as against the Texas Land Government Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association. Today, he is the lead attorney involved in resolving the day-to-day legal issues associated with natural gas drilling and production activities relative to the City’s Gas Well Drilling and Production Ordinance.

     
  • Jerry Drake, First Assistant City Attorney
    image of Jerry DrakeFirst Assistant City Attorney Jerry Drake oversees the Litigation Division. He supervises the prosecutors, employment attorney, and litigation paralegal. He participates in the operation and management of the City Attorney’s office, including management, budgeting, planning and operational oversight of Office. 

    Jerry serves as the primary in-house attorney handling litigation matters (including trial and appeal) in tort actions, civil rights, police liability, contract claims, declaratory judgments, construction law, harassment and retaliation, constitutional claims, premises liability, takings, nuisance, signs, election law and citizen initiatives.

    Jerry also engages, supervises and directs outsourced litigation relating to a variety of specialized matters, including gas wells, intellectual property, and matters involving an identified or potential conflict of interest. 


     
  • Lawrence Collister, First Assistant City Attorney
    First Assistant City Attorney Larry Collister is board certified in Commercial and Residential Real Estate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. In his role, Larry works to provide solutions-oriented legal opinions, advice, and recommendations to City Council, Public Utility Board, and the City’s utility departments. Larry drafts and reviews the necessary documents, ordinances, resolutions, contracts, easements, and agreements to achieve the City’s goals and keep the City’s utilities operating efficiently and effectively. When necessary, he supervises the recruitment of and use of highly-specialize outside counsel, and he works with outside entities and public agencies regarding various City matters.

    Larry also helps track state and federal legislative and regulatory matters affecting the City’s utility operations, and has taken an active role in issues such as the deployment of small cell devices and management of the City’s right-of-way.

    Larry also provides additional real estate advice to various City departments, including Engineering, Capital Projects, Streets, Parks and Recreation, Development Services, Materials Management Facilities, Fire, and Finance.

     
  • Trey Lansford, Deputy City Attorney
    Deputy City Attorney Trey Lansford performs much of the real estate transactional work provided by the City Attorney’s Office. Trey assists various city departments, including DME, Engineering, Parks, and Water/Wastewater, with legal advice and recommendations regarding real estate ownership and title issues. He also drafts real estate transaction documents and associated ordinances and resolutions for City departments, and prepares eminent domain ordinances and motions.

    Trey also helps prosecute, manage, and supervise condemnation cases with outside counsel, and leads all pre-litigation condemnation work resulting in cost savings to the City, and he provides legal advice and recommendation to the DME Real Estate and CIP teams. He serves as a backup attorney for the Public Utility Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.
  • Stephanie Berry, Assistant City Attorney
    Assistant City Attorney and Lead Prosecutor Stephanie Berry serves as the municipal court prosecutor and police legal advisor. As the lead municipal court prosecutor, she prepares documents for cases filed in the municipal court, assists citizens and officers in the preparation of probable cause affidavits for Class C misdemeanors, responds and files motions, and prepares written plea offers. Stephanie also serves as the Lead Prosecutor representing the State of Texas in all dockets, excluding Community Improvement Services dockets.

    Stephanie represents the City in all dangerous dog hearings and red light appeals and assists in the preparation of probable cause affidavits and search warrants for OSSF (On-Site Sewage Facility) violation cases. She also advises the Animal Services department, and prepares ordinances for Traffic, Engineering, and Police. As the police legal advisor, she advises the department on complex legal issues, changes in law, and Constitutional issues.

     
  • Stephanie Neal, Assistant City Attorney
    Stephanie joined the City Attorney’s Office in May 2018 and currently serves as an Assistant City Attorney for Special Projects. Before coming to Denton, she served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney II and as the Southeast Community Prosecutor for the City of Dallas. During her time in Dallas, Stephanie practiced complex civil litigation and worked to resolve community issues through collaboration with other departments, council members, and the community. Prior to working in municipal law, she practiced civil litigation in Fort Worth, Texas.
     
    Stephanie received her law degree from Saint Mary's University and her undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. Stephanie is a member of the Texas Young Lawyer's Association, State Bar of Texas Litigation Section, Dallas Bar Association, and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2013.
  • Stephanie Lang, Deputy City Attorney
    JD and BA; Licensed in MI, MS, and TX; U.S. District Court of Mississippi; 16 years of legal experience, 2 years municipal and governmental law experience, 10 years employment law experience. Stephanie assists various departments, including Human Resources, Solid Waste Backup, and Technology Services.
  • Mack Reinwand, Deputy City Attorney
    JD, BA; Licensed in TX; IMLA Local Government Fellow Certification; TCAA Merit Certification in Municipal Law; 11 years of municipal law experience. Mack assists various departments, including Economic Development, Purchasing, and Finance.
     

 

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215 E. McKinney St. Denton, TX 76201
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(940) 349-8333