DebnamRust is a litigation firm. Our attorneys have backgrounds in trial, negotiation, and advocacy. Our ability and desire to litigate allows our clients to get the best deals possible. Whether or not you wish to go to trial, we are here to guide you through the legal process –Explaining anything and making it as easy as we can.

Let us be your advocate.


Derek Mergele-Rust

Derek is a founding partner of DebnamRust and head of our LGBT section. Derek practices corporate law, estate planning & probate, and LGBT law. Derek has built his practice in DebnamRust's Austin and Dallas offices.

Derek brings 15 years of experience in corporate America to his practice of corporate law. Derek has worked in property management, high-tech, non-profit, and accounting. Derek graduated summa cum laude from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Geography, where he studied Urban Planning, and a Bachelor of Public Administration. He earned his law degree from Texas Tech University. In his corporate practice, Derek has used his urban planning background to assist corporations and non-profit organizations navigate city zoning ordinances. Derek spends a majority of his time protecting and representing the interests of small and medium sized Texas businesses. For small and new businesses, Derek has experience in drafting formation documents, advising set-up and structuring of companies, setting up 501(c)(3)s, protecting companies and board members from liability, advising companies with future business planning, and helping make sure new companies use best practices to avoid potential litigation. For existing small and medium sized Texas businesses, Derek has experience in preparing companies for litigation, helping companies navigate through city council meeting, advising companies on everyday best practices, helping companies with future business planning, and helping businesses navigate through the legal complexities involved in everyday business. Unlike traditional corporate attorneys, Derek is not afraid of litigation. Derek has experience in the court room and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the best interest of his clients. Staying true to his alma mater, Derek proudly represents multiple companies in the San Marcos and New Braunfels areas. He also represents companies in the Dallas and Austin areas. Derek brings experience, compassion, and accessibility to his corporate practice.

In estate planning and probate, Derek focuses his practice on holistic estate plans. His estate plans involve more than just simple wills. They also consider potential guardianship of minor or adults, situational medical documents, and end of life planning. Derek is a certified guardian in the state of Texas. He continues to educate the public on the importance of estate planning through his presentations discussing the benefits of an estate plan and the consequences of not having one.  

Derek's LGBT law practice is centered around  gender marker changes for Texas residents and same-gender marriage law. Derek Mergele-Rust came out 20 years ago and was heavily involved in OutYouth Austin. He began advocating for the LGBT community during his freshman year of college by bringing a regional LGBT conference to a regional religious university. The reaction from the student body was swift and harsh. Due to the harassment that Derek faced, he left that university and returned to Texas. Derek continued to advocate for the LGBT community over the years, and was awarded Advocate of the Year in 2017 by LubbockPride for his work to establish the Gender Marker and Name Change project in West Texas. The project, which is the first gender marker clinic in West Texas, helps people across West Texas. Derek was also awarded the Inaugural Inclusive Excellence Graduate Recognition Award for his advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQIA community and for starting Lavender Law, Texas Tech School of Law's organization focused on legal issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity.


He is published in Vol. 8 in the Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal, "Splitting the Baby: The Implications of Classifying Pre-Embryos as Community Property in Divorce Proceedings and it's Impacts on Gestational Surrogacy Agreements". 8 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J., 505 (2016). 

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Brent Debnam

Brent Debnam is a partner at DebnamRust and primarily practices criminal defense. As someone who has been arrested, Brent knows how emotionally difficult and confusing it is to be accused of committing a crime. He understands that being charged with a crime does not make you guilty, and he believes that not every mistake needs to be punished by law. Brent is passionate about criminal defense, and will go to furthest extent permitted by the Constitution to protect your rights.

Brent earned an undergraduate degree in Philosophy with a concentration on ethics. While studying Philosophy, Brent continued to build on his passion for criminal defense by examining and questioning ethical premises behind criminal prosecution. In particular, Brent focused on the injustice behind the criminal justice system.

 In law school, he focused on honing his skills in the courtroom. Brent spent the entirety of his law school career competing in various courtroom competitions, and working with underclassmen to help shape their courtroom skills as well. While in law school, Brent won a National Championship and Regional Championship in Trial work. He was also a finalist for a national championship in Negotiations. Brent was elected into the National Order of Barristers, a national organizational recognizing excellence in law school courtroom competitions.

Previously. Brent worked in a Criminal Defense clinic where he represented those who could not afford legal representation. He has represented individuals accused of various crimes such as: DWI, DWI with a Child, Theft, Assault, Domestic Assault, Drug Possession, Probation Violation, Fraud, and a number of other offenses.

Brent is a strong ally for the LGBTQIA community and provides a judgment free zone for issues of all kind. He was a member of Lavender Law in Law school, which is a student organization dedicated to advocating for the LGBTQIA community. He is a current member of the Texas LGBT Bar Association. Brent embodies DebnamRust’s most important goal: we seek only to help, not to judge.


Michael Debnam

Michael G. Debnam is a Partner at DebnamRust and primarily practices divorce and family law. Michael’s practice focuses on navigating the sensitive and nuanced issues facing families in litigation. While navigating a court case involving the family while attempting to maintain a functioning family unit can be a tremendously difficult task, Michael’s theory of practice provides a comprehensive approach that evaluates all strategies to minimize the financial and emotional impact of family law cases.

Michael graduated Texas Tech University with honors, earning a degree in International Economics with a minor in Philosophy. Michael attended the Texas Tech School of Law, and while in law school, was awarded best advocate in a championship mock trial competition, was a regional negotiation champion, and was a national finalist in the American Bar Association’s Negotiation competition.

Michael’s law school career also focused on being an advocate for the LGBTQ community. He was a member of Lavender Law, the law school’s student organization that advocates for the LGBTQIA community. Additionally, Michael worked with the diversity committee to implement strategies that aim to increase the diversity of the school. Continuing Michael’s commitment to the LGBT community, Michael is a member of the LGBT Section of the State Bar of Texas.


Michael "Miz" Ludvik

Michael “Miz” Ludvik is a Partner at DebnamRust and primarily practices criminal and veterans law. He is also a strong advocate and ally for the LGBTQIA community. Miz is also accredited with the department of Veteran affairs.

Miz is a combat veteran for United States Marine Corps. During his four years of active duty, he served two combat tours. During his first combat tour in Ramadi Iraq, Miz was combat meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal (E3). Miz was injured while serving his country. Later, Miz served four more years in the Reserves.

Miz previously worked with the Federal Public Defender Office Northern district of Texas in Lubbock, clerked for the Honorable John Roach in the 296th District Court, worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster system, and practiced law with the Caprock Regional Public Defender’s office.

Miz graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Business Information Systems Decision Sciences and later graduated cum laude with his doctorate in Jurisprudence from Texas Tech School of Law. During law school Miz continued his service to others through Pro Bono opportunities; during this time, he was awarded Pro Bono Graduating Student of the Year, PSJD National Pro Bono Public Award Finalist, Brendan B. Murray Public Service Award Scholarship, Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas for 3 years in a row, Pro Bono Dean’s award, Pro Bono Excellence award for 3 years in a row, and served on the Pro Bono Board of Directors. Much of Miz’s pro bono work was with homeless or struggling veterans.

Miz served as Texas Tech School of Law’s class president for two years, was on the academic advising committee, and was a Student Ambassador. Miz also has a strong background in advocacy, he was a member of the board of barristers, and was a finalist in the school trial competition.