Joe Virene
Partner, Construction Practice Group Leader

I take a pragmatic approach to solving my clients’ legal problems. At the bargaining table or in the courtroom, I align my strategy with my clients’ business goals. I strive to be a calm voice of reason when counseling my clients, and a zealous, but not unnecessarily combative, advocate in litigation and negotiations.

Joe Virene serves as Gray Reed's Construction Practice Group Leader. Joe combines deep industry knowledge with efficient dispute resolution skills in and out of the courtroom to help clients navigate the various challenges that arise during sophisticated construction projects. With broad experience handling every issue and dispute imaginable – contract negotiation and drafting, payment disputes, lien filings, suspensions and delays, construction and design defect claims, plus many more – Joe is well-equipped to guide clients through projects from start to finish. His client list runs the gamut of businesses working on industrial, pipeline, oil field and general construction projects, including suppliers, distributors, subcontractors, general contractors, project owners and engineers. Joe is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 

Construction and energy clients routinely rely on Joe to advise on the entire range of other issues that arise during their projects and daily operations, including general employment matters, contract review, business governance, insurance, collections and protecting their interests as creditors in a customer bankruptcy. He also negotiates and prepares a variety of construction and operational contracts, including master service agreements, master purchase agreements, distributorship agreements, personal guarantees, security agreements, general terms and conditions, non-competes and non-disclosure agreements.

Joe also handles complex commercial litigation in a wide variety of commercial contexts. He has handled lawsuits involving covenants not to compete, trade secret theft, breach of fiduciary duty, products liability, UCC security interests, fraudulent transfers, fraud and bankruptcy preference claims. Joe has also worked on numerous appeals in state and federal courts. Throughout every step of the process, Joe will outwork the other side and provide creative solutions in litigating or resolving the dispute. 

Representative Experience
  • Defense of large, international manufacturer of valves against alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Defense of an exploration and production company sued for allegedly overcharging for indirect operating expenses under an operating agreement. 
  • Defense of electrical distributorship and its CEO against alleged violations of restrictive covenants and alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Represented a large high-rise condominium association in a construction defect case against the general contractor and its subcontractors and obtained favorable resolution. 
  • Represented world’s leading waste and environmental service provider in connection with construction of a Mixed Materials MRF Project.
  • Won a bench trial on behalf of Schlumberger Technology Corp. in a suit against a former drilling fluids specialist for breach of the non-competition and training reimbursement provisions of his employment agreement. The court issued a permanent injunction enforcing the restrictive covenant and awarded Schlumberger damages and attorneys’ fees for the employee’s breach of his training reimbursement obligation.
  • Obtained a temporary injunction against former employees of an oil field services company for violations of covenants not to compete.
  • Obtained numerous successful resolutions on behalf of parties prosecuting and defending against covenants not to compete.
  • Obtained numerous summary judgments on behalf of construction suppliers against subcontractors who failed to pay for materials purchased on credit.
  • Filed and successfully prosecuted numerous mechanic's liens.
  • Obtained a dismissal of negligence and breach of contract claims against an electrician and an award of attorney fees against plaintiff in arbitration.

Reported Decisions

  • Grynberg v. M-I L.L.C., 398 SW3d 864 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 2012, pet. filed)
  • M-I L.L.C. v. Stelly, 733 F. Supp. 2d 759 (S.D. Tex. 2010)
  • Dealers Elec. Supply Co. v. Scroggins Const. Co., 292 S.W.3d 650 (Tex.2009)
  • Scoggins Constr. Co. v. Dealers Elec. Supply Co., No. 13-06-00368-CV, 2009 WL 3390324 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2009, pet. denied)
  • Morales v. Cemex Construction Materials South, 14-10-00727-CV; 2011 WL 3628861 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet. h.).
Thought Leadership / News
  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in Woodward/White, Inc.'s The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Construction Law (2020 - 2024)
  • Named a "Super Lawyer" by Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters company) as published in Texas Monthly (2020 - 2023)
  • Named a Rising Star (2015 - 2019) and recognized in the Up-And-Coming 100 list (2018) by Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters company) as published in Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines
  • Named a Houstonia Magazine Top Lawyer in Houston (2017 - 2023)
  • Mediation, Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution, South Texas College of Law
Judicial Internships
  • Honorable Lynn Hughes, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • Justice Terry Jennings, First Court of Appeals of Texas
Organizational Involvement
  • National Association of Credit Management - Gulf States
  • Houston Bar Association
    • Construction Law Section 
    • Appellate Practice Section 
    State Bar of Texas
    • Construction Law Section 
    • Appellate Practice Section 
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • American Bar Association
  • Gray Reed Pro Bono Committee member
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Houston Law Center, Order of the Barons (2007)
  • B.S., The University of Texas at Austin (2003)
Bar Admission
  • Texas
Court Admission
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit