Ten AZA Lawyers Earn 2019 Texas Rising Stars Accolades
March 6, 2019

HOUSTON – AZA, is proud to announce that 10 AZA attorneys have been named to the 2019 Texas Rising Stars list, which recognizes the state’s leading young lawyers.

For the third consecutive year, AZA associate Sammy Ford IV was named a “Top 100 Texas Up & Coming” lawyer for his business litigation skills. Also recognized in the business litigation practice area this year were associates Taylor Freeman, Foster Johnson, Neal Sarkar, Monica Uddin and Patrick Yarborough.

Associates Justin Chen, Jason McManis and Kyril Talanov were recognized for their work in intellectual property litigation, and partner Ryan Hackney was selected for his civil litigation expertise.

Texas Rising Stars, published by Thomson Reuters’ legal division, is an exclusive listing of the state’s top lawyers who are age 40 or younger or who have been in practice no more than 10 years.

“It always feels good to have our young legal talent recognized. We at AZA pride ourselves on hiring lawyers who can hit the ground running and get into court quickly,” said John Zavitsanos, an AZA founding partner.

Mr. Ford is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice ranges from catastrophic personal injury cases to class actions to business torts. He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and has been selected for Rising Stars honors seven times.

Mr. Chen’s practice focuses on patent litigation and copyright and trademark matters. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mr. Chen has litigated cases in district courts across the country as well as before the International Trade Commission. This is his second year to be listed by Rising Stars.

Mr. Freeman’s complex commercial litigation practice includes breach of contract, energy, tort, intellectual property and construction. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, this is the second time he has been named to the list of Texas’ top young attorneys.

This is Mr. Hackney’s third appearance on the list. He is a commercial litigator who has represented energy companies in a variety of disputes. A graduate of Harvard University, Mr. Hackney worked as a management consultant and writer before attending the University of Texas School of Law.

Mr. Johnson, who focuses on complex commercial litigation, has represented a variety of Fortune 100 companies in contract disputes, oil and gas matters, intellectual property litigation, and large-scale consumer and securities class actions. A graduate of Stanford Law School, this is his second selection to the list.

Mr. McManis is on this list for the second time. He is a University of Virginia School of Law graduate who helps individuals and businesses with high-stakes intellectual property disputes and other complex business litigation, including co-founder and partnership disputes.

This is Mr. Sarkar’s second time on the list. His practice involves all types of complex commercial litigation in state and federal court. He also has experience with internal and government investigations, including proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission and the State Department. He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and is a past recipient of the Rising Star Award from the South Asian Bar Association of North America.

Mr. Talanov’s practice focuses on IP matters, including patent and trade secret litigation. Before attending the University of Houston Law Center, he was a process engineer in oil, gas and petrochemicals technology. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and graduated cum laude from Texas Tech University. This is his third year to make the list.

Ms. Uddin is a trial lawyer who represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial litigation. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a Levitan Scholar. This is her seventh year on the Texas Rising Stars list.

Mr. Yarborough is on the list for the first time this year. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, he has experience representing individuals and businesses in all aspects of litigation, including mediation, arbitration, trial and appeals. As a participant in the city of Houston’s Volunteer Prosecutor Program, he has won many jury trials.

The complete Texas Rising Stars list can be found in the April 2019 issues of Texas Monthly and the Texas Rising Stars edition of Super Lawyers magazine, and online at

AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by Chambers USA 2018 among the best in Texas commercial law; by U.S. News – Best Lawyers’ Best Law Firms as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms for seven years running including 2019; and previously by Law360 as a Texas Powerhouse law firm. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000.


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