C. Elaine Howard

C. Elaine Howard


Houston Litigation Lawyer, Commercial, Real Estate and Employment , C. Elaine Howard

tbls1-laborandemploymentlawBoard Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, C. Elaine Howard is a trial attorney focusing on commercial litigation, real estate and construction disputes, and employment law. Ms. Howard distinguishes herself by partnering with clients to determine litigation goals up front, to re-evaluate those goals as the litigation progresses, and to advise, inform, and counsel clients to obtain those goals.  Ms. Howard frequently becomes involved in disputes at the pre-litigation stage, advising clients on economical workout strategies to resolve the issue, as well as to reduce time and expense.  Ms. Howard has significant first chair trial, as well as appellate, expertise.

Her broad based litigation practice allows her to understand the client’s business and practices in a wide range of industries.  In the real estate and construction context, she has handled construction litigation (including delay, defect, design, lien and collection matters), title claims, landlord/tenant disputes, adverse possession, Fair Housing Act violations, easements, foreclosure on real and personal property, and disputes arising out of the acquisition of real property.  With this background, she has a unique insight into liabilities for owners and developers of properties. In commercial litigation, she has handled numerous cases involving lending practices, disputes over multi-million dollar notes, contract disputes, securities fraud, and insurance regulation including the representation of credit unions and commercial banks in a wide variety of matters. In the employment context, she has handled claims involving race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, and disability discrimination and harassment.  She has handled matters involving the FLSA, advising clients on its application, representing them in suits over wages, and in retaliation claims.  She has been involved in numerous cases involving workers’ compensation retaliation, covenants not to compete, defamation, and breach of employment agreements.  Ms. Howard advises her clients in risk avoidance, by reviewing and preparing employment policies, and advising on personnel decisions, such as employee leave, discipline, wages, and termination.  She conducts work place investigations and conducts employee training in anti-discrimination, sensitivity and diversity.

Super Lawyers C. Elaine Howard Selected in 2022 Thomson ReutersBest Lawyers Award Badge

Areas of Practice

  • Litigation
  • Real Estate Law
  • Construction
  • Commercial Law
  • Employment Law

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Texas
    • U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas
    • U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

Representative Experience

  • Arbitrated matter involving product defect in construction materials.
  • Represented developers, property owners and contractors on risk avoidance.
  • Conducted over a hundred trainings to contractors regarding best practices during the uncertainties of COVID.
  • Obtained numerous summary judgments on behalf of employers in cases involving allegations of discrimination or retaliation.
  • First chair counsel representing lender in obtaining judgment in excess of $9 million against individuals who were found to have fraudulently obtained a loan secured by real property.
  • Represent lender in connection with real estate and construction loans.
  • Analyzed numerous covenants not to compete for enforceability.
  • Represent general contractors and subcontractors in connection with delay, lien, defect, design, and collection claims.
  • Represent national restaurant entity in FLSA collective action.
  • Represent numerous lenders, banks, credit unions and loan servicers in a wide variety of litigation matters
  • First chair counsel and successful defense verdict in suit involving alleged fraudulent inducement of lease.
  • First chair counsel and successful defense verdict in favor of landlord involving theft of personal property.
  • Represented numerous employers during workplace investigations, administrative proceedings and through litigation of allegations of discrimination or retaliation.
  • Represented land owner at trial involving oral partnership agreement which settled during trial.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of landlord and prevailed on appeal in one of the few reported cases on duty to mitigate damages.
  • Represented landlords and tenants in hundreds of landlord/tenant disputes.
  • Represented and obtained settlement for hospital in connection with construction claims against contractor and architect.
  • Represented commodity suppliers in suits against purchasers involving UCC delivery and alleged joint venture claims.
  • Represented numerous land owners in connection with disputed title claims.
  • Represented lenders in actions involving both commercial and personal loans, and involving alleged negligence, fraud or violations of statutes in connection with lending practices.


  • University of Houston Law Center
    • J.D. (magna cum laude) – 1994
    • Honors: Law Review
    • Honors: Order of the Coif
    • Honors: Order of the Barons
  • Rice University
    • B.A. Economics, Political Science, Managerial Studies (triple major) – 1990

Professional Recognition

  • Associated Builders and Contractors Board Member of the Year, 2020
  • Houston Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law – Management, 2024 Edition
  • “Texas Super Lawyer,” as presented by Super Lawyers, a Thompson Reuters Business, in Texas Monthly, 2019 – Present
  • AV© Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating (5.0 out of 5), Martindale-Hubbell
  • “Texas Rising Star,” as presented by Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters Business, in Texas Monthly, 2006
  • “Houston Professionals on the Fast Track,” H Texas Magazine, 2005

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas
  • Houston Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
    • Chair, 2013-2014; Chair-Elect, 2012-2013; Vice Chair, 2011-2012; Secretary, 2010-2011; Treasurer, 2008-2010; Membership Chair, 2007-2008
  • Houston Bar Association, Litigation Section
    • Past Chair, 2006-2007; Chair, 2005-2006; Chair-Elect, 2004-2005; Vice Chair, 2003-2004; Secretary, 2002-2003
  • Houston Bar Association
    • Professionalism Committee Co-Chair, 2006-2008
  • Commercial Real Estate Women
    • 2023 President-Elect; Board Member, 2020 – 2022; Mentoring Committee Chair, 2019; Programs Co-Chair, 2017-2018; Memberships Co-Chair, 2014: Treasurer, 2010-2012; Programs Co-Chair, 2009
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston
    • Board of Directors 2018-2023
  • Women’s Finance Exchange
    • President of the Board, 2006-2008

Speeches and Publications

  • A New Texas Business Court System,” AM Monthly Law Alert, June 2023
  • Documentation: How to Keep your Lawyer Happy,” AM Monthly Law Alert, February 2023
  • Can an Injured General Contractor Employee Sue You?.” AM Monthly Law Alert, March 2022
  • Interpreting the New Texas Vaccine Passport Law,” AM Monthly Law Alert, June 2021
  • How ‘Constitutional Carry’ Impacts your Business,” AM Monthly Law Alert, May 2021
  • Impact of Executive Orders on Employers,” AM Monthly Law Alert, February 2021
  • FFCRA Obligations Now that Schools are (Kind Of) Opening,” AM Law Alert, September 2020
  • Workplace Plans for Employee Reporting,” AM Monthly Law Alert, June 2020
  •  “Negotiating Business Uncertainty,” panelist for Houston Business Leaders Forum, June 2020
  • Preparing for a Return to the Workplace,” AM Law Alert, April 2020
  •  “Coronavirus:  What Re-Opening Texas Means for Construction,” ABC Greater Houston podcast, April 2020
  • Federal Judge Halts Dallas Paid Sick Leave Ordinance,” AM Monthly Law Alert, March 2020
  • Understanding Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees,” AM Monthly Law Alert, February 2020
  • New Overtime Rule Changes Salary Test for Exempt Workers,” AM Monthly Law Alert, October 2019
  • Update on Paid Time Off Ordinances,” AM Monthly Law Alert, July 2019
  • EEO-1 Filing Deadline Change,” AM Monthly Law Alert, April 2019
  • “Dealing with Governmental Entities,” Associated Builders and Contractors, April 2019
  • Updates on the Department of Labor,” AM Monthly Law Alert, March 2019
  • Texas High Speed Rail Hits Roadblock,” AM Monthly Law Alert, February 2019
  • Featured Speaker, American Academy of Attorneys-CPAs, September 2018
  • “Ethical Issues in Negotiations,” State Bar of Texas, Advanced Real Estate Law Course, July 2018
  • “Best Practice Tips for Employers,” Associated General Contractors (Austin Chapter) Panelist, June 2018
  • “Resolving Boundary Disputes,” Halfmoon Education Seminar, June 2018
  • “Landlord’s Liability to Third Persons,” Houston Bar Association, Real Estate Section, March 2018
  • “Update on Owner Exposure for Premises Liability and Nuisance,” State Bar of Texas, Advanced Real Estate Drafting, March 2018
  • “The Miscellaneous Sections of a Contract,” State Bar of Texas, Essentials of Business Law, March 2018
  • “Resolving Boundary Disputes,” HalfMoon Seminar on Land and Water Law, Austin, January 2018
  • “Protecting Your Employees and Your Company During the #MeToo Movement,” AM Monthly Law Alert, January 2018
  • “A Litigator Looks at Your Transaction Documents,” Corporate Counsel Review, Journal of the Corporate Counsel Section of the State Bar of Texas, November 2017
  • “A Litigator Looks at Your Transaction Documents,” State Bar of Texas, Advanced Real Estate Law Course, July 2017
  • “Electronic Employee Arbitration Agreements,” AM Monthly Law Alert, April 2017
  • “Drafting to Avoid Committing Fraud: The Battle Over Representations and Reliance,” State Bar of Texas Advanced Real Estate Drafting, March 2017
  • “Can You Discipline Employees for Political Protests?” AM Monthly Law Alert, February 2017
  • “Resolving Boundary Disputes,” HalfMoon Seminar on Land and Water Law, Houston, December 2016
  • Time to Change the Federal Labor Law Poster,” AM Monthly Law Alert, September 2016
  • “Miscellaneous Sections of a Contract,” Advanced Real Estate Law Course, State Bar of Texas, July 2016
  • New Department of Labor Regulations for Contractors,” AM Monthly Law Alert, July 2016
  • DOL Issues New Overtime Regulations,” AM Monthly Law Alert, May 2016
  • “Social Media and Legal Ethics Present Tricky Problems,” AM Monthly Law Alert, November 2015
  • “What is HERO and What Does it Say?” AM Monthly Law Alert, October 2015
  • “The Most Heavily Litigated Deal Provisions: Trial Lawyer’s Perspective,” Advanced Real Estate Law Course, July 2014
  • “Collections Jeopardy,” 29th Annual Real Estate Conference, South Texas College of Law, June 2014
  • “Those Paragraphs at the Bottom You Don’t Really Read: Trial Attorneys Discuss the Boilerplate,” 28th Annual Real Estate Conference, South Texas College of Law, June 2013
  • “Problems with Foreclosures: A Legal Analysis of Current Events,” Advanced Real Estate Seminar, State Bar of Texas, July 2012
  • “The Benefit of Hindsight: A Trial Attorney’s Tips to Transactional Attorneys on the Election of Lease Remedies,” 27th Annual Real Estate Conference, South Texas College of Law, June 2012
  • “Economic and Mental Anguish Damages in Employment Cases: Tip from the Experts,” Moderator, HBA Labor & Employment Seminar, March 2012
  • “Landlord and Tenant Drama and Trauma,” 44th Annual William W. Gibson, Jr. Mortgage Lending Institute, September 2010
  • “Allocating risk: Make sure buck stops in the least damaging place,” 38 Houston Business Journal (August 10, 2007)
  • “What is the latest law governing covenants not to compete,” 37 Houston Business Journal (December 4, 2006)
  • “Why People Hate Lawyers (and What We Can Do About It),” presentation to the HBA Family Law Section, September 2006
  • “Zealous (but Ethical) Representation in the Modern World,” HBA Seminar, April 2007; Litigation Section, May 2007
  • “Take a Hard Look at Lease Terms to Avoid a Lawsuit Down the Line,” 36 Houston Business Journal (March 24, 2006)
  • “What Should Tenant or Landlord Do When Tenant Closes Business,” 34 Houston Business Journal (January 23, 2004)
  • “Waiver Warning: Don’t Sit Back When Leasing Issues are at Stake,” 34 Houston Business Journal (Jun 20, 2003)
  • “Landlord’s Remedies in Commercial Leases,” State Bar of Texas Collections and Creditor’s Rights Seminar, 2005
  • “Eviction Procedures,” Real Estate Law Conference, 2004
  • Moderator of the following panels: “Putting out the Fires: Injunction Practice in State and Federal Courts;” “The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Corporate Counsel;” and “Tips on Effective Mediation”