It is with great sadness that the State Bar of Texas International Law Section (ILS) announces the passing of our dear friend, colleague and former ILS Chair Tom Wilson, who passed away at age 62 following a courageous battle with cancer.
Tom’s contributions to the International Law Section are immeasurable. He served as the ILS Chair from 2018-2019; was the founding member and first Chair of the Texas State Bar’s International Human Rights Committee which was created in 2015; founder of the ILS International Newsletter with its inaugural issue published in 2018; he then served as Editor-in-Chief from 2020-2022; and he was the organizer of numerous events these past several years for Human Rights Day recognized on December 10.
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading labor and employment lawyers, Tom spent his entire career at Vinson & Elkins, joining the firm’s Houston office as an associate in 1985 and being elevated to partner in 1994. He served as practice group leader for Vinson & Elkins’ Employment, Labor & OSHA group, and not only did he build a thriving practice in traditional labor and safety law, he also had a passion for international human rights law and played an important role in helping to develop environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies early-on for clients.
Consistently named by Chambers USA among its top labor and employment attorneys, Tom was sought after by clients around the world for insight on their U.S. operations and direction on matters related to managing a global workforce. Among his vast experience highlights were counseling businesses in connection with questions about the social element in ESG matters; providing counsel on human rights matters, including diversity, equity and inclusion considerations, related to operations, projects, and supply chains; and helping clients navigate their social risks and opportunities. Tom also advised employers regarding union relations, assisting with collective bargaining negotiations, responding to charges of unfair labor practices, and arbitrating union grievances. He assisted clients in supply chain due diligence and advised them on how to eradicate forced labor when discovered. He has also worked with clients to establish good relations with indigenous people impacted by international projects.
Outside of the firm, Tom served as Chair of the Board for The Briarwood School for children with learning differences and was formerly Chair of the Board for The Brookwood Community, a residential and vocational center for adults with disabilities. Over the years, he also served on the Boards of various neighborhood healthcare clinics.
Being an attorney was an incredible source of pride for Tom, not only because he excelled at his work, but also because he understood that lawyers make a difference in the world.
Tom leaves a legacy that will continue in the many lawyers he trained, the community organizations he helped build and lead, and the family that he loved. In our collective sadness over this loss, we look to find some comfort in celebrating and remembering Tom’s remarkable life. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his wife, Kathryn, sons Marshall and Merrick, and daughter-in-law Maddie, as well as his extended family, friends, clients and colleagues who had the pleasure of knowing him. View Tom’s obituary here.