Featured: On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the Edinburg Mayor and City Council unanimously appointed Omar Ochoa as Interim City Attorney, and on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, removed the Interim label and voted to make Ochoa Edinburg’s permanent City Attorney.
Photograph By DAVID PEZZAT
Omar Ochoa, native son of Edinburg, brings his nationally-renowned legal successes and top academic credentials as his hometown’s new City Attorney
By MICHAEL MARTÍNEZ
On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the Edinburg Mayor and City Council unanimously appointed Omar Ochoa as Interim City Attorney, and on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, removed the Interim label and voted to make Ochoa Edinburg’s permanent City Attorney.
As Edinburg City Attorney, Ochoa, an Edinburg native, serves as chief legal advisor to the Edinburg City Council – which includes the mayor –and other city officials, advisory boards, commissions and staff to protect the interests of the city and taxpayers.
Edinburg has an estimated population of 100,000 residents.
As part of his responsibilities, Ochoa will prepare and review ordinances, resolutions and contracts, as well as advise in and review employment matters and other legal issues.
His legal and business expertise also will be utilized on behalf of the city government’s 20 departments, which total more than 1,000 employees.
Ochoa also represents the city in civil litigation and is responsible for the criminal prosecution of all misdemeanor and infraction offenses occurring with the jurisdiction of the city’s Municipal Court.
He has represented clients in federal and state courts and arbitrations throughout the United States and internationally. He is highly experienced in a wide range of complex litigation and has handled a variety of cases including antitrust, class actions, insurance matters, securities, oil and gas, trade secrets, construction law, environmental law, qui tam, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employment matters, private equity transactions and breaches of contract.
He has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for clients of all types – from individuals to mid-sized business owners to multi-national companies.
Ochoa inspired by his father, former mayor Joe Ochoa, and his mother, CPA Lydia Ochoa
Although he has traveled and lived far away from Edinburg, Ochoa has always maintained his deep roots in the city.
His father, Joe Ochoa, the Mayor of Edinburg from 1993 to 2003 and 2006 to 2009, and his mother, Lydia Ochoa, a certified public accountant (CPA), grew up as migrant laborers and went on to receive professional degrees from prestigious universities.
Like many parents in the Rio Grande Valley, they raised their children to value education and hard work.
All of his life, Ochoa took these lessons to heart and excelled in his pursuits in hopes of making his family and community proud.
Graduating from Edinburg North High School after passing 12 Advanced Placement tests, Ochoa attended the University of Texas at Austin on a full scholarship and earned degrees in Business Administration, Accounting and Economics, and graduated from the prestigious Business Honors Program.
While at UT, Ochoa was elected in Spring 2005 as Student Body President, the first Mexican American to serve in the position, and represented more than 50,000 students to the University administration, faculty and staff and to the Texas Legislature.
In addition to that achievement as a UT undergraduate, in that role successfully championed the placement of a student member on the the Boards of Regents of Texas’ public colleges and universities. A student regent joined UT System Board of Regents in February 2006. He also travels across the Rio Grande Valley, talking about the college experience and encouraging students to apply.
While at UT, he made history again by becoming the first Latino to serve as the first Mexican American to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious Texas Law Review, which is run entirely by students and publishes legal scholarship produced by professors, judges and practitioners, according to a UT Austin news release published on May 16, 2011.
“Ochoa combined his passion for the law and service for others. During law school, he won a writing competition, worked as a research assistant, interned at the Texas Supreme Court and was published in two law journals,” reported Laura Castro, with the UT School of Law. “But he also was the education chair for the Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association, a teaching assistant for a legal writing class and a mentor in the university’s Intellectual Entrepreneurship program. This spring, he was the abbot (president) of the university’s Friar Society, the oldest and most prestigious honor society on campus.”
Also while in law school, Ochoa was part of a three-member team representing the UT School of Law that won the national championship in the 2011 Uvaldo Herrera National Moot Court Competition. Team members Anthony Arguijo, ’11; Sergio Davila, ’11; and Omar Ochoa, ’11, beat Arizona State University in the final round of the competition to win the championship.
The team also won the award for best respondent’s brief. Ochoa and Arguijo are (were) also editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively, of the Texas Law Review
He graduated with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law and went on to clerk on a Federal District Court and on the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Legal career includes top positions in federal appeal courts, Texas Supreme Court
His work in the court system included serving as Federal Law Clerk to Judge Amul Thapar, Eastern District of Kentucky, and Judge Raymond Kethledge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and serving as Former Legal Extern to David Medina, Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and the Office of the Texas Solicitor General.
Ochoa also practiced law at Susman Godfrey L.L.P., frequently recognized as the best trial firm in the nation that hires only the country’s best and brightest young lawyers. At Susman Godfrey, he excelled in trial practice and quickly became the go-to lawyer on his cases.
In 2017, Ochoa moved from Houston to Edinburg to found the Omar Ochoa Law Firm.
“It’s a privilege to serve my community in this role,” said Ochoa. “One of the reasons I came back to the Rio Grande Valley was to serve the community and offer my experience and ideas. I’m incredibly grateful to the Mayor and City Council for the trust and confidence they’ve placed in me.”
Like many municipalities in Texas and across the country, the City Attorney for Edinburg is a contracted position. As a result, Ochoa will continue private practice as managing attorney of the Omar Ochoa Law Firm while also serving as Edinburg City Attorney.
“I think he’s great,” said Mayor Richard Molina. “Omar is nationally-recognized as one of the best young trial lawyers in the country. He’s a tremendous addition to our team.”
City Manager Juan G. Guerra, CPA, added, “As a long-time Edinburg resident, a CPA and an attorney, we are excited at the potential Mr. Ochoa provides in successfully protecting the interests of the residents of Edinburg. Mr. Ochoa brings a skill set that is needed to protect the interests of the taxpayer in today’s dynamic legal world.”
Edinburg is one of the largest cities in the Rio Grande Valley, and it is the fastest-growing.
“Omar has been very involved in the community,” the Edinburg mayor added. “He’s served on some of the advisory boards in Edinburg, you see him at a lot of the city’s events, and he really knows a lot about what’s going on. People have spoken really highly of him.”
When asked about his goals for the position, Ochoa replied, “The highest priority is to give the city top-quality legal advice and representation in all matters as we do with all of our clients. But in addition, I hope to lead the city’s legal department as a first-class organization.”
Before leaving for his first action as Edinburg’s City Attorney – a meeting with all of the city’s department directors – Ochoa declared, “I’m ready to get to work on behalf of the citizens of Edinburg.”
Ochoa has also made history in private practice
While as an attorney with Susman Godfrey L.L.P., he helped recover more than a billion dollars on behalf of car buyers in the United States in what was the largest action in U.S. history for indirect purchasers.
He was instrumental in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars for car buyers who suffered at the hands of a global conspiracy within the automotive parts industry. Parts makers colluded among themselves to rig bids and artificially raise the price of dozens of auto parts – from spark plugs, to radiators, to seat belts – sold to car companies such as Toyota, Honda and Ford. As a result, car buyers in the United States paid more for their vehicles than they should have.
To date, the total recovery in the Auto Parts Antitrust Litigation has been the largest in U.S. history for indirect purchasers.
For his work on the case, Ochoa was awarded the Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement by a Young Lawyer award from the American Antitrust Institute at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The Auto Parts case and Ochoa’s efforts have been chronicled in publications and news programs across the country.
Ochoa has also recovered millions for taxpayers through prosecuting claims for healthcare fraud and has advised executives of large corporations around the country on legal matters.
He has successfully prosecuted anti-kickback and Medicare and Medicaid fraud claims against healthcare providers and medical equipment suppliers.
He has recovered millions for taxpayers and whistleblowers who bravely came forward to report fraud.
Although other lawyers turned the case down, Ochoa’s litigation skills and strategy resulted in a substantial settlement for the government and his clients.
Cary Zayas and David A. Díaz contributed to this article. For more information, contact Omar Ochoa at 956/630-3266 or view his website at https://omarochoalaw.com. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).