Estes Thorne Ewing & Payne PLLC


  • WBE

Firm Size

  • 11-20

Willing to Act as Local Counsel

  • Yes

Estes Thorne Ewing & Payne is a women-owned firm established in 2008 by former “Big Law” partners. The firm provides top tier service to Fortune 100 companies and other high-profile clients around the country in the areas of commercial litigation, labor & employment, appellate law, construction litigation, ERISA, Healthcare litigation, family law, and Texas Local Counsel. The firm has a robust investigations practice and several firm partners serve as mediators and arbitrators.

Our clients call us “proactive,” innovative” and “client-focused.” We emphasize collaboration with in-house counsel at every step to develop and execute the best strategic plans throughout the engagement. Our goal is to develop a long-standing, close, trusted relationship with our clients. We view client relationships as marathons, not sprints.


Dallas, TX

3811 Turtle Creek Blvd, Suite 2000, Dallas, TX 75219

Person of contact: Dawn Estes

Practice Areas

  • ADR/Arbitration
  • Banking and Finance
    • Litigation
  • Construction
    • Litigation
  • Insurance
    • Life, Health, Disability/ERISA
    • Professional Liability/E&O/D&O
  • Labor & Employment
    • Arbitration
    • Compliance
    • Drafting Employee Handbooks / Policies / Documents
    • Investigations - Internal/Agency
    • Leave and Pay Acts (e.g. FLSA / FMLA / Service Contracts Act / Davis Bacon Act / Walsh-Healey)
    • Litigation
    • Regulators/Regulations (e.g. DOL, NLRB, OFCCP, OSHA, OWBPA, SOX,)
    • Trade Secret
  • Litigation/Trials
    • Administrative
    • Class Action
    • Construction
    • Corporate/Commercial (Shareholder Derivative Suits, Securities, FINRA, Antitrust, Banking, Bankruptcy, etc.)
    • Employment (HR, Discrimination, ERISA, Labor, Workers Comp, etc.)
    • Malpractice
    • Professional Liability
    • Real Estate
    • Restaurant Retail & Hospitality
  • Securities
    • Litigation

Firm Bio


Whether it is inside the courtroom, in front of a jury, or at the negotiating table mediating a dispute, there are very few types of cases we have not handled. For years we have been helping a diverse group of corporate and individual clients in many different areas of the law.

We do not believe in walls. Collaboration is not just encouraged; it is the name of the game. Our attorneys come from varied backgrounds and have experience in multiple practice areas, so our team is able to give you our best thinking and best solutions seamlessly and efficiently.


All lawyers are smart. But appellate lawyers are smart. The kind of smart that comes from being law review editors, moot court champions, and clerks for federal judges. The attorneys in our Appellate Practice are that kind of smart. Plus, they have years of experience in appellate courts at the state and federal levels. That experience extends to several areas, including:

• Trial strategy
• Post-trial motions
• Interlocutory appeals
• Writs of mandamus
• Merits briefing
• Oral advocacy
• Petitions for review in the Supreme Court of Texas

Our appellate team handles appeals in a wide array of subject matters-commercial, employment, family, and real estate-and represents clients ranging from large Fortune 500 companies, to governmental entities, and individuals.

Appellate law is often very different from law at the trial level. Luckily, we handle both, eliminating the traditional need to seek out a firm that specializes only in appellate matters. In addition, lawyers in our Appellate Practice team up with our trial lawyers to look at issues through an appellate lens-in case an appeal occurs-and to address issues related to error preservation, jury charges, and motion practice.

We believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to appealing a case. When meeting with a client, we first work to identify their needs and build a strategy from there. We are able to take the lead in any number of circumstances, whether appealing a verdict or working toward mediation, or we can simply advise and help develop legal strategy. Our clients’ needs come first and foremost in any action we take, and we work in the most efficient and cost-effective manner to achieve a favorable outcome. Pretty smart, right?


We like to use all tools available to assist our clients. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration can often be a desirable way to more efficiently resolve expensive litigation and find creative solutions to our clients’ business problems, Our work consists not only of advocating for our clients in arbitrating the disputes themselves, but we also provide counseling and advice as to whether arbitration is the best path forward and what other avenues are available to achieve a successful outcome, because we understand that sometimes, “winning at all costs” is not really winning.

And we also know what it is like to serve as a neutral mediator or arbitrator. We have lawyers who are trained mediators, lawyers who have been invited to serve on the National Panel of Arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association, and lawyers who are invited by the parties to serve as arbitrators. This unique-experience gives us insight into the strategies on both sides of the table.


Estes Thorne Ewing & Payne’s Commercial/Business Litigation practice is top-notch. In 2017, Dawn Estes and Carol Payne were named as Top 100 Lawyers in DFW and Top 50 Women Lawyers in the State of Texas by Texas Super Lawyers/Thomson Reuters. 

While we are proud of our accolades, we are most proud of our client service and our ability to win. We thrive when working collaboratively as a team with in-house counsel, and we believe that any win is a win for the entire team. We also make it a point to listen and understand the people involved and what motivates them.

Our legal strategy is not one size fits all; it is determined by your circumstances; your goals. In many instances, we were able to avoid the courtroom and secure favorable settlements for our clients without the need for litigation. But we believe the only way to do that is to be willing, ready, and able to go to trial. And when that becomes necessary, we will wrestle it to the ground.

Our firm has decades of experience with business disputes of all shapes and sizes. Here are some examples:

• Contract disputes
• Business break-ups
• Fraud and claims of misrepresentation
• Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
• Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions
• Negligence
• Slander
• Director and Officer Liability
• Force Majeure

We have handled these and more in a variety of industries. Here are just a few:

• Financial Services
• Construction
• Healthcare
• Telecommunications
• Trucking and Transportation
• Energy
• Multi-level Marketing
• Food and Beverage
• Real Estate


Whether you live here or are just driving through, anyone can see that North Texas is growing. With so much activity, disputes are inevitable. From a single-family residence to a large-scale power plant, if it requires legal action, we know what to do. Our attorneys have decades of experience working not just in the construction industry, but the construction industry in Texas. We know the lay of the land, and can provide valuable insight on local practices specific to our state.

We are prepared to fight for your interests at any stage of a construction project. Whether you are dealing with a contract dispute, filing or removing a mechanic’s lien, deceptive trade practices, insurance matters, delay claims, or construction defect allegations, we work quickly to save you as much time as possible, and to keep your costs from spiraling out of control. Where mediation is appropriate, we will work toward that. But should it prove necessary, we are not afraid of going to court. Whatever the case, we are there for you until the job is done.


Litigation concerning the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is often very complicated and many law firms are not equipped to aggressively defend their clients from claims that are brought against them. Not us. Our lawyers have extensive experience representing employers, insurers, and employee benefit plans in a variety of ERISA and non-ERISA benefit claims.

The ERISA matters we have handled include:

• Plan Interpretation Claims
• Life and Disability Benefit Claims
• Breaches of Fiduciary Duties

We resolve many ERISA matters at the summary judgement stage or through settlements. Regardless of the path the litigation takes, we are prepared and ready.


We understand that whether navigating the difficult waters of a divorcing a spouse or helping determine who takes custody of a child, people are at the center of everything we do. In these situations, the traditional ideas of “winners” and “losers” often have to be rethought. To this end, we pride ourselves on our ability to work together with our clients to define their goals and tailor our approach to achieve them.

At ETEP, we pride ourselves on being compassionate, empathetic resources for our clients as we work through whatever issues arise. We care deeply about our clients on a professional level, but we care even more on a personal level. We believe that many firms overlook the “counsel” part of “legal counsel,” we take seriously our role as a support system for those with whom we work.

Our background also provides us with a wealth of business knowledge that gives us a unique perspective when dealing with family law matters. We are able to offer our clients valuable insight on how this can affect businesses, investments, compensation packages, retirement benefits, stock options, and a variety of other specific financial considerations.

We believe that by creating honest, open partnerships with our clients, the decisions we ultimately make will be the right ones. Certainly, this does not mean making decisions will always be easy, but we will work hard to ensure the best outcome for our clients and their children.


New regulations and judicial rulings continue to expand the scope of employee rights. But we recognize that employers have important rights as well.

In our practice we work with employers of all sizes, from major corporations to small businesses. We focus on offering innovative and thoughtful defense of employment disputes in the courtroom and before regulatory agencies. Our employment litigation experience encompasses claims of civil rights discrimination, affirmative action compliance, wage and hour issues, wrongful termination charges, occupational safety and health matters, covenants not to compete, sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

We counsel clients on a daily basis on how to recognize and deal with many employment issues before they escalate, and the best practices in employment policies and procedures and in the hiring, firing and disciplining of employees.


Few situations cause a lawyer more concern than facing claims of malpractice and other misconduct. We understand how serious these claims can be, and the lasting effects they can have on a lawyer’s professional reputation, and the reputation of a law firm as a whole. And we can help – we are creative, discreet and know how to win.

We have represented lawyers and law firms in a variety of legal malpractice claims stemming from, for example, appellate practices, corporate transactions, financial services, personal injury law, real estate, and securities law. Whether involving claims of negligence, fraud, conflicts of interest, or other breaches of fiduciary duties, we are ready to approach the case thoughtfully and with a relentless determination to win. Our clients range from small, local practices to large, national firms, yet they all share one common attribute– the confidence that we can get the job done.

In addition, we also handle disqualification disputes, serve as expert witnesses, provide counseling and speak on professional ethics and legal malpractice topics. We have been doing this for a long time, and we can help when these problems arise.


People sometimes say things are a little different in Texas, and that certainly applies to the legal system. For lawyers from other parts of the country who have no real experience with Texas local rules and practices, we can help. We can provide invaluable assistance in both state and federal courts. We can guide you through every step of the process, whether you are filing a new lawsuit, preparing a witness, helping with discovery, or picking a jury. We can also help you understand the nuances of our Texas state-court practice, such as special exceptions, special appearances, and other unique procedures. We will take as large a role as needed, including helping you devise legal strategy, and if need be, we will be by your side in court. And of course, we will tell you which part of the tamale you are not supposed to eat!