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Arab Americans

Joseph D. Jamail

Joseph D. Jamail

Joseph Dahr Jamail, Jr. (born October 19, 1925) is an American attorney and billionaire. The wealthiest practicing attorney in America, he is frequently referred to as the “King of Torts“.[2] As of 2011, his net worth was estimated by Forbes to be $1.5 billion, making him the 833rd richest person in the world.

Personal life

Jamail was born to a Lebanese family. He is a graduate of St. Thomas High School in HoustonTexas, and The University of Texas at Austin where he received his B.A. in 1950 and The University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 1953. In 1986 The University of Texas School of Law created the Joseph D. Jamail Centennial Chair in Law and Advocacy in his honor.[3]


In 1985, Jamail represented Pennzoil in a lawsuit against Texaco. Pennzoil won the case and his contingency fee was $335 million. Jamail has given large donations toRice University and The University of Texas at Austin. The football field at Darrell K. Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium is named Joe Jamail Field in his honor, and so is the Joseph D. Jamail, Jr. Pavilion at The University of Texas School of Law. Also located on the University of Texas campus is the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, named for him and his wife. The University has erected two statues on campus in his honor.

On May 14, 2008, The University of Texas at Austin announced a $15 million gift from Joe Jamail to support the Law School, Nursing School, and the College of Undergraduate Studies. In response to the gift, the university has renamed a large meeting room in the tower building to the Lee Hage Jamail Academic Room.[4]

On May 29, 2008, the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark opened near downtown Houston. It was a $2.7 million project. The park is public and covers over 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2).

On April 27, 2011, The San Marcos Baptist Academy announced a $1 million gift from Joe Jamail to help establish a fund to build a special event center on the Academy campus in memory of Jamail’s wife, Lee, who graduated from San Marcos Academy in 1944.[5]

Jamail is known for his passionate, aggressive, sometimes abrasive advocacy on behalf of his clients—a tendency that has been noted in the National Law Journal, by theSupreme Court of Delaware[6] as well as other sources.[7] On its own motion, having reviewed deposition transcripts in the Paramount case, the Delaware Supreme Courtreferred to Mr. Jamail’s conduct as “rude, uncivil and vulgar”, “abusing the privilege of representing a witness in a Delaware proceeding”, 637 A.2d. 34, at 53, as displaying “an astonishing lack of professionalism and civility”, and as “outrageous” and as “unacceptable”, for statements to deposing counsel such as “you could gag a maggot off a meatwagon”. 637 A2d. 34, at 54. The Court included its admonition of Mr. Jamail in an Addendum to its opinion “as a lesson for the future—a lesson of conduct not to be tolerated or repeated.” 637 A2d. 34, at 52. In April 2006, a particularly sharp exchange, titled “Joe Jamail takes a deposition defended by Edward Carstarphen. Hilarity ensues” or “Texas-Style Deposition”, appeared[8] on various blogs and internet sites (particularly related to American law). Following a reprimand by the Delaware Supreme Court, Jamail stated in the press “I’d rather have a nose on my ass than go to Delaware for any reason”.[9]


  1. Jump up^ “The World’s Billionaires (2010): #655 Joseph Jamail Jr.”Forbes. March 3, 2010.
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  6. Jump up^ Paramount Communications Inc. v. QVC Network Inc., 637 A.2d 34, 54 (Del. 1994)
  7. Jump up^ “Joe Jamail: Trial Lawyers & Structured Settlements”. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  8. Jump up^ “Lawyerin’ Ain’t Easy”Blog. Brainwidth. April 6, 2006. Archived from the original on April 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
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