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Who We Are Drives What We Do

At the center of large and complex cases, systems, and procedures are people. We understand that, and fight to deliver the highest standard of service, thinking, and strategy without losing sight of the people we serve.


We empower people
through exceptional legal representation.

We fight hard and think smart for individuals and their families who have often survived unimaginable loss.

Meet Our People

Jay F. Utley


Jay F. Utley has over two decades of experience in all aspects of successfully representing multi-national corporations in complex, commercial litigation at both the district court and appellate levels all over the globe. He has served as lead counsel in numerous proceedings in which the substantive legal issues have been eclipsed by the procedural complexities of multiple parties with multiple cases in multiple U.S. and non-U.S. jurisdictions and venues. Before co-founding Forrest Weldon Law Group, LLP, Jay was a Principal at Baker & McKenzie LLP. During his twenty-year tenure there, Baker McKenzie ranked as the largest and best known law firm in the world, and Jay served as head of the firm’s Intellectual Property & Technology Practice in Texas.

W. Barton (Bart) Rankin


W. Barton (Bart) Rankin began his legal career working as a law clerk to Chief Justice Josh R. Morriss III of the Texas Sixth Court of Appeals. Bart spent the next 19-plus years working as an associate and partner with Baker & McKenzie, LLP. While there, Bart practiced in the firm’s intellectual property and complex commercial litigation sections. In that time, Bart represented large, multinational corporations in civil disputes pending in state and federal courts nationwide, as well as numerous international arbitration proceedings. With over two decades of experience in complex, multi-party, civil litigation, Bart has successfully managed lawsuits valued in the billions of dollars through the trial and appellate stages.

Joanna Raines McKinney


Joanna McKinney graduated first in her class from Baylor School of Law in 2018. Joanna began her legal career working as a law clerk for the Honorable Justice Jeffrey Boyd of the Supreme Court of Texas. Before joining Forrest Weldon, Joanna practiced in Kelly Hart & Hallman’s acclaimed appellate section where she represented large corporations as well as individuals in state and federal courts.

Joshua F. Richardson


Joshua Richardson graduated in the top ten percent of his class from Baylor Law School in 2020. He began his legal career working as a law clerk for the Honorable Amos L. Mazzant of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. During his time there, Joshua gained behind-the-bench trial experience by aiding the Court through three jury trials and numerous hearings spanning various areas of the law including both civil and criminal matters. Joshua uses his clerkship experience to provide pragmatic and tactical litigation strategies.

Ben Kelly

Senior Counsel

Ben Kelly has almost two decades of experience in high-stakes and high-profile civil litigation. During that time, Ben has managed or led significant disputes for publicly traded or privately held companies involving material damages demands. He has represented clients in courts around the country, in international arbitrations, and on appeal, often in complex technology cases. Before joining Forrest Weldon Law Group, LLP, Ben was a Partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP and Associate at Sidley Austin LLP, where he formulated winning strategies at every stage of litigation.

Elaine Rudzinski

Firm Administrator and Paralegal

Elaine Rudzinski started her law career in 2011 working as a deputy court clerk for the state court. Elaine went on to become an in-court clerk for multiple magistrate judges, assisting with various court proceedings. She ultimately moved into the role as legal assistant to two district court judges, handling both civil and criminal dockets. Elaine relocated to Texas and began working at a large law firm where she supported multiple attorneys through all phases of complex litigation at the state and federal court levels.

Derek Lindy


Derek is a certified ABA paralegal from the University of San Diego.  Derek began his legal career in 2009 and, since then, has worked for several large law firms, handling all phases of civil litigation in both federal and state courts.  Derek is proficient with numerous docket and document management systems.  He has spent his career assisting with, among other things, legal research, drafting pleadings and discovery requests, obtaining documents through the Freedom of Information Act, and performing case-critical tasks during the discovery process, as well as at trial.

We are always looking for the best and the brightest to join our team.

Our team is ready and willing to hear your story — no matter the complexity. Let us know how we can help.