Dawn Estes


Direct Dial: 214.599.4002
Mobile: 214.924.3296
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Best Lawyers 2023

AV Preeminent Badge 2022

Super Lawyers Top 100

Super Lawyers 2021 Top 50 Women

Super Lawyers 20 Years


D Magazine Best Lawyer 2023

Texas Bar Foundation Fellow

LD 500 Leading Employment Lawyers

Lawdragon Leading Litigators

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Practice Areas

  • Commercial/Business Litigation
  • Personal Injury Defense
  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Internet and Computer Technology
  • Trade Secrets Trademark Trade-Dress
  • Injunctions/Temporary Restraining Orders

Clients turn to Dawn when they need to resolve sophisticated business disputes or just want to catch up over a glass of wine.

They know Dawn is as comfortable in state and federal courts and arbitrations as she is being lead singer of her own band. AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell, Dawn is widely regarded as an attorney of great stature- not only for her impressive track record in state and federal court but also because, well, she’s very tall—even before she steps into her signature stiletto heels. Those who’ve seen her in court say she towers above her competition, literally and figuratively.

Dawn can play tough, but she also plays well with others. She serves as a court-appointed mediator, and she also serves as an arbitrator on the American Arbitration Association’s National Panel of Commercial and Employment Arbitrators. Over the past 15 years, Dawn has presided over dozens of arbitration hearings with hundreds of millions claimed in damages and over 70 days of evidentiary hearings. 

Dawn recently received recognition as one of 335 attorneys nationwide as a BTI Client Service All-Star through a national survey of general counsel. Clients appreciate Dawn’s passion and hands-on commitment to their cases; she treats her clients’ problems as if they were her own, working collaboratively to resolve matters, whether that means going to the courthouse or avoiding the courthouse.

Dawn has been selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in commercial litigation, and she was chosen by fellow members of the Texas Bar Association as a Texas Super Lawyer in Business Litigation in every year since the award was created. She also has the distinction of being selected as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Texas (as published by Texas Monthly), and Best Lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine. Dawn has also served as an Adjunct Professor at SMU's Dedman School of Law. 

Experience and Expertise

  • Breach of contract and breach of warranty claims
  • Negligence
  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • Asset Purchase Agreements
  • Force majeure
  • Trade secret and proprietary/confidential information misappropriation
  • Trademark and trade dress
  • Licensing agreements
  • Creditor's rights
  • Website development contracts
  • Director and officer liability
  • Direct sales/multi-level marketing
  • Employee theft and fraud
  • Insurance bad faith involving disability and life insurance policies
  • Software and technology performance disputes
  • Product liability claims
  • Personal injury defense
  • Shareholder derivative actions
  • Tortious interference with contract
  • Negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims
  • Distribution agreements
  • Slander/defamation
  • Deceptive Trade Practice Act claims
  • Temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions

Education And Certifications

J.D., St. Mary's University School of Law (1989)

  • Associate Editor, Law Journal

B.A., Southern Methodist University, cum laude (1986)


State Bar of Texas

State Bar of Oklahoma

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals


Member, State Bar of Texas

Member, State Bar of Oklahoma

Master and Executive Committee Member, Higginbotham Inn of Court

Circle of Leaders, The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Women in Law

Member, Dallas Bar Association

  • Presidential Citation (2011, 2017)
  • Board of Directors (2016-2017)
  • Judiciary Committee Co-Chair (2012)
  • Bench Bar Committee Co-Chair (2011)

Advisory Board, Dallas Women Lawyers Association

Board of Directors, Dallas Women Lawyers Association Foundation 

Member, Attorneys Serving the Community

Member, Dallas Committee for a Qualified Judiciary

Member, Association of Attorney Mediators

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation

Life Fellow, Dallas Bar Foundation, Former Trustee

Fellow, Dallas Young Lawyers Association (DYLA) Foundation

Former Member, State Bar Committee on Administration of Rules of Evidence (2008-2012)

  • Former Subcommittee Chair, Technology

Federal Bar Association

Community Activities

Board of Directors, Texas Appleseed

Board of Directors, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra

Volunteer, Austin Street Shelter

Northaven United Methodist Church

Band Member, Black Dirt Tango

Prior Work Experience

Partner, Gardere Wynne Sewell, LLP, Dallas (1997-2007) Trial Section

Associate, Gardere & Wynne, Dallas (1989-97) Trial Section

Professional Achievements

Recognized, Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators (2023)

Recognized, Lawdragon 500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyers (2023)

Recognized, Best Lawyers in America® in commercial litigation and arbitration, Woodward/White, Inc. (2016-2023)

Recognized, Best Lawyers in Dallas, as published in D Magazine (2011-2023)

Recognized, Texas Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, as published in Texas Monthly (2003-2022)

Recognized Top 100: Dallas/Ft. Worth Super Lawyers , Thomson Reuters, as published in Texas Monthly (2011-2012, 2015-2021)

Recognized, Top 100: Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, as published in Texas Monthly (2017-2021)

Recognized, Top 50: Women Texas Super Lawyers in Texas, Thomson Reuters, as published in Texas Monthly (2006, 2011-2013, 2015-2021)

BTI Client Service A-Team (2019)

AV Preeminent - Martindale-Hubbell

Recognized, Texas Trial Legend, Tort & Insurance Practice Section, Dallas Bar Association (2016)

Recognized, Outstanding Female Partner Award, Dallas Women Lawyers Association (2016)

Recognized, Best Women Lawyers in Dallas in commercial litigation, as published in D Magazine (2010)

Recognized, Best Lawyers Under 40, as published in D Magazine (2002)

Representative Publications

Texas Business Litigation, Chapter 23, E-Discovery, Androgue & Baker, editors (2019 ed.) – Author

Partnering Effectively with Outside Counsel - State Bar of Texas 17th Annual Advanced In-House Counsel - 8/10/18 - Co-Author

How Preparing for an Arbitration is Different Than Preparing for Trial – Including Discovery, State Bar of Texas, Texas Bar College, 19th Annual Summer School, Galveston, Texas – 07/2017 - Co-Author

The Evolving Roles of In-House and Outside Counsel to Identify Sources of Information, Preserve Data, and Collect Documents in Coverage Litigation – DRI Program, Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium, New York, New York – 12/2017 – Co-Author

How to Win at Arbitration in a Consumer Case - State Bar of Texas, 12th Annual Advanced Consumer & Commercial Law Course, Austin, Texas – 9/2016 – Co-Author

Supporting Women is Good Business – Texas Lawyer – 10/2014 – Co-Author

Representative Speeches

The Impact of Gender in Litigation, Negotiations, and Trial – Joint CLE, Dallas Women Lawyers Association and Dallas Trial Lawyers Association, Dallas, Texas – 03/2019 – Panelist

The Evolving Roles of In-House and Outside Counsel to Identify Sources of Information, Preserve Data, and Collect Documents in Coverage Litigation – DRI Program, Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium, New York, New York – 12/2017 – Panelist

How a Small Firm Can Make a Big Splash, My Firm Did and so Can You – Start Your Law Practice Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana – 11/2017 – Speaker

Developing Cannonball Cross Examination Through The Adverse Deposition – UT Law, Winning at Deposition Skills and Strategy, Austin, Texas – 8/2017 – Speaker

Civility and Ethics - Are They the Same Thing? “Incivility’s Top Ten!” – Northern District of Texas, Bench Bar Conference, Dallas, Texas – 1/2017 – Panelist

Arbitration Trends: What's Happening Now! – Advanced Trial Strategies Course 2016 – 02/2016 – Speaker

UT Law's Winning at Deposition – Skills and Strategy Conference – 09/2015 – Speaker

How Do You Win In Arbitration? – State Bar College Summer School, Galveston, TX – 07/2015 – Speaker

What Should I Do in Arbitration and What Do I Do If I Don't Like the Result? – Advanced Trial Strategies Course 2015 – 02/2015 – Speaker