Judge Robert A. Eckels
Of Counsel

Judge Robert Eckels' legal practice at Gray Reed is built on a decades-long career in public service and leadership of the nation's third largest county. Robert is recognized as a national leader in issues of transportation, public finance/public private partnerships, homeland security, the environment and health care.

He was the founding chairman of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, a coalition of local governments, educational institutions and the private sector working to bring high-speed rail to Texas. Robert left that organization in December of 2010 to accept a position as President of Texas Central Railway, LLC, (www.texascentral.com) a private enterprise seeking to build a high-speed rail system linking Houston with Dallas/Fort Worth.

As County Judge of Harris County, Robert partnered with TxDoT and local jurisdictions to build the Houston Transtar Transportation and Emergency Operations Center, a global model of interagency partnerships for transportation operations and sustained training and planning for homeland security and disaster mitigation, response and recovery.

Judge Eckels received international recognition when Harris County responded to Hurricane Katrina and the floods, wind and storm surge that led to massive destruction and loss of life in New Orleans and the US Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. The Harris County Astrodome and Reliant Park became the largest shelter operation in US history as over 250,000 residents of storm ravaged areas fled to the Houston region.

Judge Eckels was first elected as a state representative in his 20's, served six terms before being elected county judge - a role with executive, legislative and judicial functions for Harris County, which is home to nearly 4 million residents. He is a graduate of the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law Houston. Robert and his wife “Jet” make their home in Houston. His daughter, Kirby, is a student at Barnard College at Columbia University. 

Thought Leadership / News
Organizational Involvement

Professional Activities, Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
    • Criminal Justice Section - Juvenile Justice Committee
    • Administrative and Regulatory Practice Section - Transportation Committee
    • Government and Public Lawyers Division
    • National Conference of Specialized Court Judges
  • State Bar of Texas
    • Administrative and Public Law Section
    • Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section
  • South Texas College of Law
    • Board of Directors
  • CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) - Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
  • College of the State Bar
  • Houston Bar Association
  • New York City Bar Association
  • Washington, D.C. Bar Association
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Colorado Bar Association
  • National Association of Corporate Directors
  • Houston College of Law (formerly South Texas College of Law)
    • Board of Directors

Community Involvement, Memberships & Affiliations

  • Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District - President
  • Texas County and District Retirement System Board of Trustees - Chairman (Governor's Appointment, 2002 - present)
  • Senior Advisory Committee - State and Local Officials to the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council (DHS-SGE w/Security Clearances) (2003 - present)
  • International Institute for Regional Development, Board of Directors
  • Texas Urban Transportation Alliance, President
  • Texas High Speed Rail & Transportation Corporation, Chair (2001 - 2011)
  • Texas Environmental Research Coalition - Founding Member and Vice Chair
  • American Leadership Forum - Senior Fellow
  • National Council to Stop Violence -City Chair (Houston), State Chair (Texas)
  • Do the Write Thing Texas - President
  • Houston Christian High School - Trustee (2003 - 2009)
  • Harris County Citizens Corps - Founding President (2001 - 2007)
  • Boy Scouts of America - Sam Houston Area Council, Board of Directors (1998 - 2010)
  • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Life Member and Ex-Officio Board of Directors (1995 - 2007)
  • Greater Houston Partnership - Transportation & Infrastructure Advisory Committee
  • Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau - Executive Board (1998 - 2007)
  • British American Project - Fellow and 1996 Delegate
  • Buffalo Bayou Partnership - Board
  • The Park People - Board of Advisors
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center - Advisory Board
  • Texas Conservative Coalition - Board of Directors
  • Gulf Coast Community Service Association, Board Member (1995 - 2004)
  • Houston Lyceum
  • 100 Club of Houston - Life Member
  • Tejas Breakfast Club
  • Leadership Center of Houston - Board
  • Galveston Bay Foundation
  • Rotary Club of Houston - Honorary Member
  • Texas Council on Family Violence
  • Alzheimer's Disease & Related Disorders Association
  • J.D., South Texas College of Law Houston
  • B.S., University of Houston
Bar Admissions
  • Texas
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Colorado