Retired Judge Nancy Atlas served as a United States District Judge from 1995 to 2022, in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. During her almost 27 years on the bench, Judge Atlas presided over thousands of civil and criminal cases, many of which were resolved at trial or on dispositive motions. Judge Atlas now primarily mediates complex cases, serves as an arbitrator, and assists attorneys by presiding over mock oral arguments and consulting on case strategy. She also has rendered service to the Court by working with patent lawyers to draft and then update the Southern District of Texas patent rules, forms, and procedures, among other projects.
Judge Atlas served on and then chaired the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Security between 2005 to 2015. She chaired the Southern District of Texas’s Judicial Security Committee and the Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel. She served on the Court’s Automation and other committees. She served for several years as one of the judicial mediators appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to assist finding resolutions in several of the Puerto Rico Insolvency Cases involving more than $70 billion of debt.
Judge Atlas co-founded the Houston Intellectual Property Inn of Court in 2012, The Inn now bears her name. She also has been active in the American Bar Association and its Section of Litigation in various ways, such as serving as a member of the Section’s governing council, by presenting at and devising numerous continuing legal education programs, and by chairing various committees, including several on which she assisted in detailed analysis of and drafting reports about existing and proposed federal court rules and legislation, alternative dispute resolution, judicial ethics, and bankruptcy issues.
Judge Atlas graduated in 1971 from Tufts University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated from NYU School of Law in 1974, and received that school’s Vanderbilt Award for outstanding service. While in New York, she clerked for a United States District Judge, worked at a prominent New York law firm, and served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (Civil Division) in the Southern District of New York.
After moving to Texas, before her appointment to the bench, Judge Atlas was a partner at the Houston law firm of Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay, PC, where she litigated complex commercial cases and bankruptcy issues, as well as developed a substantial mediation practice involving ~500 cases. Among other bar activities, she served as a council member of the State Bar of Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and co-chaired the Section’s committee that created the Texas Ethical Guidelines for Mediators.