A Journey of Learning, Law and Legacy

When you mix the wisdom of a historian with the sharp mind of a lawyer and the storytelling prowess of a published author – you get none other than Dr. Bill Chriss.  

A self-described lifelong learner who was once described by a Texas Supreme Court justice as a man “with more degrees than a thermometer,” Bill is as approachable as he is entertaining and funny. Affectionately known as “Dr. Bill,” he wrote his latest book, Six Constitutions Over Texas, to peel back the layers of Texas’ identity, helping the world understand what makes Texans tick.

A Legacy In Texas History

Dr. Bill’s story, deeply rooted in Texas history, intertwines with the state’s heritage. Born in Fort Worth, Bill spent his early days living in a shelter for unwed mothers before being adopted by a Greek Orthodox family in Corpus Christi. The Chriss family has a long history in South Texas, having come to Corpus Christi in 1925 after being forced to flee Nacogdoches due to persecution by the Ku Klux Klan for their faith and ethnic heritage.

His grandfather was a poor Greek immigrant candy maker who owned a series of confectionaries and cafes. His dad, a respected doctor who was the first endocrinologist in South Texas and served as president of the Texas Diabetes Association, was his greatest inspiration, teaching him the power of truth, civility, and the essence of friendship. Those life lessons served him well when he became Dean of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics.

Bill’s resolve was tested at the tender age of five when a rare childhood bone disorder forced him to stay in a wheelchair for a year. The early adversity faced by him and his family helped shape his character and helped him understand some of the struggles and triumphs that define the Texas experience. 

The Road To Justice

As a proud University of Texas alum, Bill thought he would enter politics, even receiving a nomination for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship – but fate took his journey in a different direction. When he didn’t receive the scholarship, his academic path led him instead to Harvard Law School, marking the beginning of his deep passion for trial and appellate law and continuing education.

After graduating from Harvard Law at 23, Bill moved back to his beloved Texas, where he thrived in the courtroom – litigating hundreds of prestigious cases. Despite his successful legal career, Bill couldn’t ignore the constant urge to dive back into academia. He pursued three graduate degrees while keeping a full legal calendar. Bill only took a brief sabbatical from work to move back to Austin to pursue his Ph.D. in history at his alma mater, The University of Texas.  

A Spiritual Awakening

While Bill grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church that his grandparents helped build and where he served as an altar boy, he wasn’t overly religious. That changed in 1994 during a visit to the island of Patmos in Greece. Bill describes a visit to the Cave of the Apocalypse where Saint John penned the Book of Revelation as a “spiritual awakening.”

The ‘aha moment’ led him on a journey to befriend Greek monks and to study with a Romanian priest, who eventually encouraged Bill to get a Seminary degree, which he received in 2004 from the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology at the University of Balamand. 

Family Ties

These days, Bill continues to straddle the worlds of academia, family, writing, and appellate law. He cherishes his role as a father, dedicating his latest book to his children, John and Olivia, and his father, John W. Chriss, M.D. Bill’s son shares his interest in shooting, philosophy, rodeo, and exploring the American West.

With his daughter and son-in-law, Bill enjoys his first grandchild, Frances, and discussing bar-b-que, literature, and politics. Professionally, Bill is Of Counsel to The Snapka Law Firm, where he remains committed to “helping ordinary people obtain justice in the face of significant economic and political inequality.” 


Bill is born in Fort Worth, TX

Bill is soon adopted by a Greek Orthodox family in Corpus Christi, fulfilling his birth mother's hopes. 

Bill graduates from the University at Austin

Bill excels, completing his degree in just three years and securing a Rhodes Scholarship nomination at age 20. 

Bill graduates from Harvard Law School

Graduating at 23, Bill heads back to Texas, joining the law firm of Kleberg, Dyer, Redford, and Weil in Corpus Christi 

Bill welcomes a son

Bill's family grows with the birth of his son John, who, after graduating from Texas Tech, comes to own a real estate brokerage firm in Austin.   

Bill starts a new law firm and welcomes a daughter

With former district judge Jorge C. Rangel, Bill starts the new law partnership of Rangel & Chriss, and Bill's daughter Olivia is born. After graduating from Texas Tech, she becomes a congressional aide and eventually finds her career in governmental affairs in Houston.

Spiritual awaking, Patmos, Greece

Bill experiences a spiritual awakening in the Cave of the Apocalypse where the Book of Revelation was written. 

Bill opens The Law Office of William J. Chriss, PC

Bill takes a bold step, starting his own practice, The Law Office of William J. Chriss, PC.   

Bill earns his Master’s degree in Applied Orthodox Christian Theology

Pursuing further education, Bill earns a Master’s seminary degree in Applied Orthodox Christian Theology through distance learning. 

Bill obtains his Master’s degree in History and Political Science

Adding to his academic achievements, Bill secures a Master's in History and Political Science and then receives a coveted doctoral fellowship to study history at U.T. Austin with the renowned historian H.W. Brands.   

Bill Takes lead roles at the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism

Bill serves as Executive Director and Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, simultaneously working towards his Ph.D.   

Bill’s First book, “The Noble Lawyer” is published

The State Bar of Texas publishes Bill’s first book, "The Noble Lawyer: The Truth about Attack on Democracy’s Chosen Profession, 1976-2008," based on his series of ethical lectures to lawyers.

Dr. Bill earns his Ph.D in history from the University of Texas at Austin

Achieving his Ph.D. in History, Bill is now “Dr. Bill.” 

Dr. Bill obtains his Master’s degree in English

Bill earns his third Master’s degree from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, this one in English with a concentration in literary studies. 

Dr. Bill’s Second book, “Six Constitutions Over Texas, 1836-1876” is published

Bill's second book is published, dedicated to his father and children and featuring a foreword by his mentor H.W. Brands.

words from the wise