Spotlight: Alumnus of the Month
Francisco Hernandez Jr.
Class of 1990
If a law degree is arguably the most flexible graduate degree a student can earn, Francisco Hernandez Jr. is an absolute master at bending and shaping his J.D. to suit his talents, goals, and dreams.
His more than 20-year legal career has included fascinating twists and turns. He has worked in politics and government, private practice, as a member of the bench, and has even advised a presidential campaign – that of Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Capping Hernandez’s unusually broad résumé is his latest appointment, announced in February 2011: He is the newly-elected chairman of the board of directors of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the world's third busiest, offering nearly 1,750 flights per day and serving 57 million passengers a year.
The chair position is a policy-making, political appointment. DFW Airport is considered the economic engine of Dallas/Fort Worth. It has a $600 million budget and is the home of American Airlines. Hernandez has served as a member of the board of directors since 2006 before his elevation to the top spot.
“I am certain that I was selected for appointment to the board because of my international experience,” Hernandez explains. He is dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, and his Dutch-born wife makes for a truly multinational home. The Hernandez children are tri-lingual, speaking English, Spanish, and Dutch.
Hernandez’s background made him ideally suited for his new position.
“Because of my family's connection to Holland, I assisted in courting KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, to fly direct non-stop flights between Amsterdam and DFW. And, Mexico is the number one international destination for DFW International Airport. It is very important to maintain ties with the principal international destination point.”
After graduating from Catholic University’s law school in 1990, Hernandez had a distinguished early career in Washington, D.C. At various times, he worked for multi-national law firm Skadden Arps, in the U.S. Congress, and for the U.S. Department of Justice. He was also an in-house legislative attorney for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.
Over the years, Hernandez has served as chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, as a municipal judge firm, and as special legislative counsel to a Texas state senator.
He was tagged as a go-getter early on. A few of the honors that have come his way include being named "Man of the Year" by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Outstanding Young Leader" by the Jr. Chamber of Commerce, and one of "40 Under 40" by the Fort Worth Business Press.
These days, Hernandez and his brother, Daniel, operate a busy private practice in Fort Worth. The Law Offices of Francisco Hernandez specializes in criminal defense, immigration matters, international business, and . business and government relations.
It is a multi-faceted practice, well suited to the talents and temperament of its founder.
“My education at Catholic Law and in Washington, D.C., clearly prepared me for my current roles. However, I did not foresee the route and there were, indeed, many unexpected twists, hills, and valleys,” says Hernandez, reflecting back upon his professional life so far.
For today’s law students and young practitioners, he offers some worthwhile advice.
“One has to remain flexible and open-minded to opportunities. Pigeon-holing yourself to a specific area of practice can create a sort of tunnel vision that keeps you from seizing some opportunities.”