David Keltner received the 2023 American Inns of Court James E. Coleman Jr. Award for Professionalism in the Fifth Circuit. Judge Carl E. Stewart, Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, and BG Malinda E. Dunn, USA (Ret.) presented the award in San Antonio, Texas, on May 8.
“David is a lawyer’s lawyer—knowledgeable, experienced, collegial, and, most importantly, ethical,” write Marianne Auld, Esquire, and Dee J. Kelly Jr., Esquire, who nominated Keltner for the award. “At the same time that he has put together one of the most impressive legal careers that the Texas bar ever has witnessed, he also has garnered a reputation for his civility and professionalism.”
Keltner is so passionate about ethics he helped draft the Texas Lawyer’s Creed: A Mandate for Professionalism, promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1989. The document that Keltner and three others crafted urges lawyers to be more professional and to live up to the ideals they were taught in law school.
A justice on the Texas Court of Appeals early in his career, Keltner has dedicated most of his career to appellate work. After an early stint in trial work at Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller, Keltner moved to Haynes and Boone, LLP, where he created one of the nation’s first appellate sections. He joined Kelly Hart as a partner in 2007. He has been the lead counsel in more than 300 appellate decisions.
Keltner is one of only 320 fellows of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Best Lawyers® named him the Appellate Lawyer of the Year for Dallas/Fort Worth in 2016 and 2018. In 2012, the Texas Bar Foundation gave Keltner its first Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award. Texas Lawyer named him the state’s “go-to appellate lawyer.”
Keltner has also promoted ethics and professionalism by helping found the Eldon B. Mahon American Inn of Court. He has also been active in the state bar. He chaired the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas and the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education events.
Keltner earned a journalism degree at Trinity University in 1972 and a law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in 1975.