Texas lawmaker leaves BakerHostetler for new law firm after proposal to penalize abortion aid

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REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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  • Cody Vasut's Texas House caucus proposed penalties for lawyers who help people get abortions

(Reuters) - Lawyer Cody Vasut, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, has left corporate law firm BakerHostetler and is starting his own practice, according to his Texas bar registration and paperwork filed with the state.

Vasut is a member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, which in June warned it might take legal action against law firm Sidley Austin over its policy of paying for travel for employees seeking to obtain abortions. Sidley is one of several major law firms that adopted such policies this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion nationwide.

Vasut and a BakerHostetler spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. The roughly 1,000-lawyer firm removed Vasut's profile from its website after Reuters first reported on his involvement in the Texas Freedom Caucus’s efforts.

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Vasut, who represents energy companies in litigation, this week filed paperwork with Texas state officials to form his own Houston-area law practice, Vasut Law. He is the only person named on the papers.

His Texas bar registration also now lists him with the new firm, and his Texas House of Representatives webpage has been updated to remove a reference to BakerHostetler. Vasut was elected in 2020 to represent southern Brazoria and Matagorda counties in the Texas House.

The Texas Freedom Caucus, which counts Vasut among its 11 active members, accused Sidley Austin in a June letter of appearing to be “complicit in illegal abortions” in the state, citing its policy of reimbursing staff who leave Texas to have abortions.

The letter also said the group will introduce legislation to disbar attorneys who help people get abortions.

The Texas Freedom Caucus has not publicly sent letters to other law firms in Texas with abortion travel benefits. Its chairman Mayes Middleton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters could not confirm whether BakerHostetler, which has Texas offices Houston and Dallas, has such a policy in place.

A spokesperson for Sidley had no immediate comment on whether the firm has had further contacts with the caucus since the letter.

Read more:

Large U.S. law firms begin to offer abortion travel benefits after Dobbs ruling

Attorney at rival firm among lawmakers accusing Sidley Austin of aiding illegal abortions

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Jacqueline Thomsen, based in Washington, D.C., covers legal news related to policy, the courts and the legal profession. Follow her on Twitter at @jacq_thomsen and email her at jacqueline.thomsen@thomsonreuters.com.