Derek Mergele-Rust Photo
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Derek Mergele-Rust

Founding Partner

Derek Mergele-Rust is a Founding Partner at DebnamRust, P.C. and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Texas Tech School of Law. He practices child welfare, juvenile defense, estate planning, and probate law.

Derek’s child welfare practice is built around protecting the constitutional rights of parents and children in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. He is appointed to represent parents or children in Dallas County, and he has cases across North Texas. Derek has taken up the role of educating CPS, District Attorneys Offices, other lawyers, and judges on issues facing LGBTQ+ parents or children in CPS cases. Derek is also appointed by Dallas County to represent minors in juvenile proceedings, helping parents and minors navigate the quasi-criminal world that is juvenile law.

Derek’s estate planning and probate practice grew out of his law school years, where he served on, and is published in, the Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal. He currently gives presentations and lectures on how estate planning affects the everyday person and how estate planning can significantly increase or decrease the cost of probate.

Derek has lived in Dallas, Texas for about four years. He is passionate about advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, active in leadership of the Dallas Bar Association, and is happy, as an extrovert, to have survived the era of COVID-19. Derek is excited to be teaching at the Texas Tech School of Law educating students concerning legal topics related to gender and sexual orientation.

The signature of Attorney Derek Mergele-Rust

  • Avvo Derek 5-star
  • Avvo Derek 8.4
  • Rising Star 2021
  • Super Lawyer 2022

Texas Tech School of Law

  • Doctor of Jurisprudence (2017)

Texas State University

  •  B.S. in Geography, concentration in Urban Planning, and a Bachelors of Public Administration, Summa Cum Laude (2011)

Community Outreach/Admissions

  • 2023 to Present – Dallas Bar Association At-Large Board Director
  • 2022 to Present – LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, Treasurer
  • 2021 - Dallas LGBT Bar Association - President
  • 2017 to Present – Dallas Bar Association – Member
  • 2017 to Present – State Bar of Texas Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Section – Member
  • 2017 to Present - LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, Member


  • Super Lawyers Nomination, 2021 & 2022
  • Austin Bar Foundation / Austin LGBTQ+ Bar Association, Scholarship Recipient, 2017
  • Texas Tech University, Inclusive Excellence Graduate Recognition Award, 2017
  • PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award, National Merit Distinction Honoree, 2017
  • LubbockPride, Advocate of the Year, 2017


  • 2022 Moving the Goalpost on Transgender Children Lubbock, Texas
  • 2020 Corporate Presentation, Estate Planning: More Than a Will, Plano, Texas
  • 2020 Big XII LGBTQ+ Summit, Legal LGBTQ+ Hot Topics in 2020, Lubbock, Texas
  • 2019 Texas Tech School of Law, Legal Hot Topics Facing the LGBTQ+ Community, Lubbock, Texas
  • 2018 PFLAG Austin Panel, K-12 Policy and Legal Issues for Trans Students, Austin, Texas
  • 2018 GALA North Texas Quarterly Quorum, Bathroom Bills in Texas, Plano, Texas
  • 2018 Big XII LGBTQ+ Summit, Bathroom Bills in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, Lubbock, Texas
  • 2017 Estate Planning and Community Property Journal Symposium, Publication Presentation, Lubbock, Texas

  • 2017 to Present - Founding Partner - DebnamRust, PC
  • 2022 to Present - Adjunct Law Professor - Texas Tech School of Law
  • Splitting the Baby: The Implications of Classifying Pre-Embryos as Community Property in Divorce Proceedings and Its Implications on Gestational Surrogacy Agreements 8 EST. PLAN. & CMTY. PROP. L.J. 505 (July 2016). 2016