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Gonzales's Journey: From the Stands to the Heights
"He had a stellar record at Harvard," said V&E's managing partner, Joseph C. Dilg, who was head of the group when Gonzales was hired.
Coming to Bush's AttentionBy several accounts, Gonzales became known to the Bush family while he was at V&E. Gonzales served as special legal counsel to the Houston Host Committee for the 1990 Summit of Industrialized Nations, held at Rice University when George H.W. Bush was president. Dilg said that Bush subsequently offered Gonzales a job in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But Gonzales turned it down.
"He had a great career in front of him at V&E, and the timing was such that he had not been considered for partner here," Dilg said.
A year later, in 1991, Gonzales was admitted to the V&E partnership along with a Hispanic woman, the firm's first two Latino law partners.
Gonzales's longtime friend Roland Garcia, who formerly worked at V&E and served on several boards with Gonzales, said Miers recommended Gonzales, active in Republican politics locally, to Bush when he was elected governor and was looking for a counsel. "He interviewed him, and they hit it off and they've been fast friends ever since," said Garcia, a lawyer and longtime Democratic activist in Houston. "Al was a Republican before it was popular for the Republicans to recruit Hispanics."
James Daniel Thompson III, a V&E partner who has been friends with Gonzales for 18 years and still plays golf with him when he returns to Houston, said "he kind of surprised all of us when he . . . resigned his partnership at the law firm to commit himself to public service."