Meet Our #WomanOfTheWeek, Super Lawyer Chrysta Castañeda
Congratulations to #WomanOfTheWeek Chrysta Castañeda! Let's learn more about her professional journey into becoming one of the most sought-after high-stakes lawyers in America.
Chrysta Castañeda is a Dallas-based oil and gas trial lawyer and co-author of The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens. She has spent most of her career in the energy industry, and her work has earned her recognition and some excellent results for her clients. Her $146 million win for T. Boone Pickens (detailed in her book) was recognized as one of the largest verdicts in 2016 in the country by The National Law Journal and earned her a spot as one of the NLJ’s Elite Trial Lawyers of 2018, as well as induction into Texas Lawyer‘s Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame.
Chrysta began her career as a software engineer in the oil and gas industry before returning to law school. After working at some of the country’s largest law firms (and taking time to work in crisis communications and run for Congress), Chrysta founded The Castañeda Firm, which focuses on “high-energy litigation for the energy industry and beyond.” In addition to her legal work, Chrysta was the 2020 Democratic nominee for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees Texas’ oil and gas industry.
Chrysta Castañeda is a go-to lawyer for high-stakes litigation in the energy industry and beyond. She is an engineer with a deep understanding of energy operations, finance and markets, as well as a sought-after speaker and author on energy issues and litigation matters. With more than 25 years’ experience, she has built a solid reputation for adeptly handling technical litigation, often serving as lead trial counsel in high-profile disputes of media interest.
Her win for T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Petroleum Partners was recognized as the 12th largest verdict in 2016 in the nation by The National Law Journal and earned her a spot as one of the NLJ’s Elite Trial Lawyers of 2018, as well as induction into Texas Lawyer‘s Texas Verdicts Hall of Fame. Following this series of high-profile recognitions, Chrysta was inducted as a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation in the beginning of 2020.
Chrysta has been recognized as one of the leading attorneys in her field by The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas, and The National Law Journal, which awarded her both its “Trailblazer” and “Elite Trial Lawyers” awards. She is also the co-author of The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens, which recounts the events leading up to, and the trial of, the Mesa lawsuit.
Chrysta developed her reputation and commitment to excellence from practicing for more than two decades at top firms worldwide. Since founding the Castañeda Firm, Chrysta has prioritized delivering the quality of representation found in large law firms in a personalized way. Chrysta and her team strive to out-prepare the opposition, from investigation through trial.
Chrysta not only has more than two decades of experience litigating energy and oil and gas matters but also holds a degree in engineering. Her technical training, in combination with her experience in crisis communications, frequently proves invaluable to clients, enabling her to effectively explain complex scientific concepts to judges and juries.
Outside of the oil and gas and energy industries, Chrysta has extensive experience in commercial litigation, trade secrets, products liability, pharmaceutical, medical device, and toxic tort litigation. In 2020, she was the Democratic nominee for the Texas Railroad Commission.
Chrysta received her law degree, cum laude, from the SMU Dedman School of Law in 1991. She received her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Kansas State University in 1985.
DPW: What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
CHRYSTA: I ran for Texas Railroad Commission in 2020 and I “came in second.” It was always going to be an uphill battle because no Democrat has won statewide office in Texas in decades. But it was worth the fight, and I brought a lot of visibility and success to a race that usually attracts no media attention, volunteers, or donors. What I learned is that, even if failure is a distinct possibility, you forge ahead anyway if the fight is worth it. I believe that cleaning up our environment and leaving our kids a planet worth living on is the most important fight of our time. I may not have won that race, but we definitely moved the ball in terms of awareness of the importance of the Texas Railroad Commission (the state’s oil and gas regulator, with no connection to railroads) and its influence on both Texas and global climate change.
DPW: What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?
CHRYSTA: You have got to be the most positive voice in your head. Unfortunately, many women have a habit of talking themselves out of taking risks or putting themselves up for promotions or positions of authority if they have even the slightest doubt about their ability to succeed. Men generally don’t let their own self-doubt keep them from going after whatever goal they have. I’ve spent most of my life in fields dominated by men: engineering, BigLaw, and the energy industry. So, if only to survive, I’ve had to develop lots of self-assurance and confidence, and it’s helped me in the courtroom, on the campaign trail, and in the day-to-day running of my law firm.
DPW: What’s the biggest accomplishment you’ve had in the last few months and what was it?
CHRYSTA: This goes back to my biggest “failure,” my unsuccessful campaign for the Texas Railroad Commission. My campaign brought more attention to the Commission than any other campaign in recent memory. We raised many times more than the last five previous Democratic candidates combined, we blanketed the airwaves with ads, and we got more media attention for a race that was typically one of the most obscure on the ballot. I am so proud of how much we accomplished that, although I’m not now sitting on the Railroad Commission, I consider that campaign one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I have zero regrets.
DPW: Are there any non-profits or community-based organizations you support? Why is this cause important to you?
CHRYSTA: I’m on the Board of Directors of the Texas Women’s Foundation, which is a non-profit dedicated to driving social and economic change for women, girls and families in Texas. We provide millions in grants to entities supporting women’s economic security, do research on economic issues affecting women, and generally leverage our network to help advance the cause of economic security for women. Women have to support other women.
DPW: Do you believe that women can have it all?
CHRYSTA: Yes, but not all at the same time. We tend to focus too much on balance. Truth is, like running, walking or climbing stairs, you’ll always be in the process of falling, catching yourself and remaining upright. You have to learn to trust the process and that time and attention will bring good results to all that you care about. Maybe this month or quarter or even this year you didn’t have everything in balance, but if you look back over the longer term, you kept it all relatively together. Over the course of a thirty-plus year career or raising children, you find it all works out.
ABOUT CASTAÑEDA LAW FIRM:
The Castañeda Firm represents litigation clients in the energy industry and beyond. We employ our high-energy approach to the most technical and complex cases.
Not only do we craft targeted yet flexible strategies that take cases from investigation through judgment, but we also adeptly anticipate and counter the opposition’s strikes. Our penchant for staying abreast of the most recent and relevant industry trends and developments, in combination with our technical training and experience in crisis communications, enables us to effectively and persuasively communicate complex subjects to juries and judges. We draw on more than two decades of trial experience to develop custom. case-specific litigation strategies to help our clients achieve their goals. Chrysta@castaneda-firm.com
About Dallas Professional Women: Our organization believes in celebrating the achievements of all women. We believe in the power of collaboration instead of competition and commit to celebrating all women by empowering them to reach their full potential.
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