Corpus Christi attorney William ‘Bill’ Edwards died at 91
Corpus Christi attorney William ‘Bill’ Edwards died at 91

Corpus Christi attorney William ‘Bill’ Edwards died at 91

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correctly state the year Bill Edwards began his legal career and that he moved into an independent living community after his wife, Sally, suffered a stroke.

William “Bill” Ryle Edwards Jr., founder of The Edwards Law Firm in Corpus Christi and pioneer in personal injury law in Texas, died last week. He was 91.

Bill Edwards worked as a trial lawyer in Texas for more than 60 years, according to his obituary. He served on Texas Supreme Court committees and was a past president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, according to his law firm‘s website.

Bill Edwards was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Aug. 25, 1931, according to his obituary. He grew up in Virginia and graduated from Staunton Military Academy. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia, where he was a diving champion.

William "Bill"  Ryle Edwards Jr.

William “Bill” Ryle Edwards Jr.

In 1953, Bill Edwards served as the first lieutenant in the US Army. He began his legal career in Houston in 1958, then moved to Corpus Christi and started a law firm a year later.

Later in his life, he moved into an independent living community after his wife, Sally, suffered a stroke.

His son, William “Billy” Edwards III, has been a partner at The Edwards Law Firm since 1986. Billy Edwards’ three siblings all became lawyers, a legacy that the younger Edwards attributed, in part, to the emphasis his father placed “on obtaining a thorough education.”

“His practice of law was his life, and so it was all part of our lives, too,” Billy Edwards said.

Bill Edwards was an active participant in his firm until December 2022 and even tried his last case that year, Billy Edwards said.

“He never lost his strong will to work really hard,” Billy Edwards said. “He was trying cases to the very end.”

Billy Edwards described his father as “an early strong advocate for civil rights.” The elder Edwards worked with the Texas Legislature to help abolish the poll tax that minorities were required to pay to vote. In 1987, he was given an award for being a special counsel to the Texas Senate for his assistance with civil justice reform.

Bill Edwards also represented a Corpus Christi woman in a case that made national news. In 1991, a jury awarded Juli Bliskey $14 million from the managers of her townhouse complex for negligence because her neat stole her address and key from their office in 1987.

Bill Edwards and Bliskey pushed for a Texas law — which ultimately passed — that required apartment management companies to provide keyless deadbolts for all tenants, something that could have prevented Bliskey’s attacker from entering her apartment.

“There’s just one after another of those (instances) where he would obtain substantial results for his clients, but then he and his clients wouldn’t stop there,” Billy Edwards said. “They would move on to try to do something to help make sure that other people didn’t suffer the same circumstance.”

San Antonio attorney Mikal Watts called Bill Edwards “an absolute pioneer in representing individuals in lawsuits against companies.”

“He and (his former partner) Guy Allison were giants in town and responsible for changes in Texas law,” Watts said. “He was a giant within his field across the state.”

Together, Allison and Edwards wrote the law of product liability in the state of Texas, according to Watts. Edwards specialized in defective products, catastrophic injury accidents and medical negligence. He was considered a leading proponent of legal ethics.

In 2011, Edwards worked with legislators to pass the first law to allow victims of barratry, or illegal solicitation of clients by lawyers, to sue in civil court.

Bill Edwards loved the outdoors, his son said; his love for hunting and fishing brought him to Corpus Christi. The younger Edwards said some of his best memories were of hunting and fishing with his father, and that the two had gone fishing together as recently as six months ago.

And Bill Edwards was known for his “larger-than-life laugh,” his son said.

Billy Edward recalled that when he and his siblings were children and were looking for their father in a crowded room, “we would just stop and listen to his laugh.”

Funeral services are at Seaside Funeral Home in Corpus Christi on Thursday, March 23. The viewing is at 12:30 pm, funeral at 1:30 pm, interment at 2:30 pm and celebration of life at The Courtyard at Gaslight Square at 4 pm

more:Local attorney Bill Edwards receives COVID-19 vaccine

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Corpus Christi attorney William ‘Bill’ Edwards died at 91

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