Kyla Gunter joined the firm in October of 2020 as an Associate Attorney.
Kyla, the daughter of a railroader and a nurse, grew up moving around the country roughly every two years. Born in Denver, her dad’s job took them to Loveland, Colorado, then McCook, Nebraska for elementary school. In 1993, when the Burlington Northern Railroad merged with and became the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. (BNSF), Kyla’s family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where she would attend part of middle school before moving back to Nebraska; this time, to her parents’ hometown of Alliance, in the panhandle of the state. During high school, Kyla and her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and back to Fort Worth, Texas, before Kyla moved back to Alliance, Nebraska, to finish her senior year of high school, graduating in 2000.
In 2001, Kyla moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to go to college. She started at Southeast Community College to help keep her costs low, studying political science. Shortly after starting college, however, her advisor told her there “really wasn’t much need for political science majors in the job market,” which wasn’t untrue, so she switched her major to business administration, eventually earning her Associate of Arts degree from Southeast Community College, graduating cum laude in the winter of 2004.
Kyla immediately enrolled in the University of Nebraska to earn her bachelor’s degree, but was only able to complete one semester there on campus. She had gotten married in 2002 and had her first child two days before her own 21st birthday in 2003, and “regular campus life” wasn’t terribly conducive to raising a small child, being a wife, and working full time. Kyla transferred to Regis University, which was one of the country’s first “brick-and-mortar” schools to offer an online bachelor’s degree, in 2005. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance in December of 2007, while still working full time for Allied (now Nationwide) Insurance and raising a growing family, giving birth to her youngest child at the beginning of that month.
With two young children in day care (which, by the way, was outrageously expensive!!), and wanting to leave the bone-chilling Nebraska winters behind, Kyla and her young family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to be closer to her parents and little sister. She started working for Allstate Insurance, as a commercial lines claims representative, in March of 2008, but she still had dreams of being an attorney, a lifelong goal that she almost gave up because she wasn’t sure she could do it with two young children who still needed a lot of attention. She decided to take a chance and take the LSAT, “just to see what would happen.” She ended up with a respectable enough score, so she decided to apply to just one law school, Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University, to see if she could get in, but unsure what she would do if she actually did. In the spring of 2009, she found out she was accepted to Texas Wesleyan University School of Law for the fall semester, even earning a partial scholarship to help cover the costs. She decided to quit her job at Allstate, both follow her own dreams and provide her kids with a better life than she could provide them with just her bachelor’s degree, accepting Texas Wesleyan’s offer.
Law school proved to be rough on her marriage, however, and Kyla and her then-husband decided to part ways in only the second semester of her first year in law school. He moved back to Lincoln to be near his family, leaving Kyla basically a single mom to a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Luckily, she was blessed with an incredible support system in Fort Worth, beginning with her parents and sister, who helped with the kids while she was in class or working part-time as a bartender and server at the Fort Worth Club, an exclusive social club in downtown Fort Worth.
In her second year of law school, Kyla started working as a legal assistant-slash-clerk for prominent criminal defense attorney and former justice on Texas’ Second Court of Appeals, David Richards. She gained a great deal of experience working for Mr. Richards, helping with everything from potential new client consultations to appellate briefs and writs to full trials. Because of his stature and experience, Mr. Richards had quite a few clients, both retained and appointed, whose alleged crimes ranged from simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana to capital murder. In fact, most of the appellate briefs and writs she assisted Mr. Richards with were for clients on death row. She was also given the opportunity to travel with Mr. Richards to New Orleans, where he gave oral argument to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
After a year with Mr. Richards, Kyla was offered an internship in the Tarrant County Office of Judicial Staff Counsel, working with Charles Reynolds. In this position, she helped read through and evaluate writs filed by defendants in criminal cases and researched and helped advise the Tarrant County criminal court judges on potential issues and novel questions of law.Around that time, Kyla attended a Stoney LaRue concert at Billy Bob’s Texas, where she met her husband, Kenny. They bonded over being single parents to young kids and their mutual love of stand-up comedy (especially George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Dave Chappelle), and pretty much knew within a few weeks that they would be together from there on out! They got married in September of 2013, at the Fort Worth Club, solidifying their new little family, now consisting of themselves and their combined three kids, then aged 10, 8, and 6. Their kids actually looked so much alike when they were younger that everyone they met assumed they were all biological to both Kenny and Kyla. They built a house in north Fort Worth, while Kyla finished law school and studied for the Texas Bar Exam as they were preparing for the wedding. They all still live in that house, along with their two dogs adopted from HSNT, Willie Nelson and Titus Andromedon.
Kyla passed the Texas Bar Exam and started working as a contract attorney for a small oil and gas firm in Fort Worth. After taking some time off to help care for her mom, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer (who is now completely cancer-free—woohoo!), she and a colleague formed their own law firm, Gunter Vitartas Law Firm, PLLC. When Ms. Vitartas decided to move back to her home state of Ohio, Kyla changed her firm’s name to Gunter Law Group, PLLC, and resumed working as a contract attorney for other small firms who practiced oil and gas law, researching title to certain tracts of land and authoring title opinions at the request of oil and gas companies large and small. She also handled criminal and family law cases on a limited basis, but focused her efforts more on oil and gas law, estate planning, and probate law. In 2018, she was appointed to the State Bar of Texas Pattern Jury Charge for Oil and Gas Cases Committee, on which she will serve until her term is up, in 2021. She is also a member of the State Bar College due to her numerous hours of Continuing Legal Education.
Kyla decided to wrap up operations of her own law firm in 2020 so she could focus more on her original love, substantive legal work, instead of having to split her attention between running a business and the legal work. She was delighted to get the opportunity to join the Brandy Austin Law Firm as an Associate Attorney, and looks forward to helping BALF’s clients with their legal matters!