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).