Stories of Recovery: Guiding hands and kind words

Editor’s note: This is the 10th story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they overcame mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Let’s be honest. I am not grateful that I am an alcoholic. I did not go to law school with the goal of being a middle-aged probate lawyer with a drinking problem.

I am eternally grateful for the programs that are available to lawyers who want help. There are wonderful 12 step programs, AA being my favorite. There are also more focused groups for lawyers and accountants, but the bottom line: whether we're a judge, a truck driver, or the general counsel, we are all the same.

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Free legal clinic for veterans this weekend in Pearland

Veterans needing legal assistance or advice will have an opportunity to meet with an attorney at no cost this Saturday. During a free clinic at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7109 in Pearland, veterans and spouses of deceased veterans can speak with a lawyer regarding any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Those who need ongoing representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney.

The clinic, which is a public service of the Brazoria County Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative, will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at 4202 W. Walnut, Pearland, 77581. For more information, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at (713) 759-1133 or go to hba.org.

TYLA launches Interns Across Texas program

The Texas Young Lawyers Association is proud to announce Interns Across Texas, a free program aimed at creating judicial internships for law school students all across the state.

Interns Across Texas aims to “kill two birds with one stone.” First, it is increasingly more difficult for law students to find meaningful internships while in law school that provide the “real-world” work experience that law firms or governments often require. Second, many of the judges in Texas lack access to smart, hard-working law students to assist in researching and drafting opinions and orders.

The goal of the Interns Across Texas program is to increase the availability of judicial internships throughout Texas by connecting law students looking for internship opportunities with state and federal judges in Texas who seek well-qualified interns.

The Web-based program allows judges to identify and ultimately hire law students across the state for unpaid, judicial internships for the summer, fall, or spring semesters. Students will apply for internships online, and judges will receive all applications electronically.

The user-friendly site allows judges to easily sort and select the best-suited applicant for each position. If you are interested in participating in the program, please sign up today!

Apprentice program reduces cost of hiring summer law clerks

As summer approaches, upper-level law students begin finalizing their plans for break. For many, this will include time as a law clerk. In an effort to help small law firms in the Houston area connect with these students, the University of Houston Law Center’s Career Development Office offers the Summer Apprentice Program. The goal of the program is to introduce students to opportunities at small firms, which typically do not have a robust hiring infrastructure. Participating firms and the Law Center will split the cost of a student’s salary.

“Students who are getting experience in smaller firms are often able to participate in projects they may not have exposure to in larger firms. In some cases, students are meeting clients, attending depositions or hearings, and drafting documents that directly impact the outcome of a client's case,” said Allison Hickey Regan, assistant dean for career development. “We have seen an increase in students wanting to practice in smaller firms, and this program gives them fantastic exposure.”

Placement interviews are currently taking place; firms interested in participating in the Summer Apprentice Program should go to law.uh.edu/career/Law-Firm-Apprenticeship.asp.

Female judges recognized by Texas Legislature

There are 1,064 female judges in Texas. On Monday, more than 120 gathered at the Capitol in Austin, where they were recognized by members of the Texas Senate and House, with SR535 and HR1907.

 

Documentary focuses on East Texas arson

In a little more than a month in early 2010, 10 churches within a 40-mile radius burned to the ground in East Texas. Tensions were high during those weeks, as heartbroken congregations watched flames engulf building after building. While evidence at the scenes pointed to arson as the cause of the fires, tracking down a suspect took some time; there was no consistent pattern in the burnings and, for a while, no strong leads. It soon grew to be one of the largest criminal investigations in East Texas history. Little Hope was Arson, produced by theCollaborate & Goodnight Smoke, details the burnings, their impact on the community, and the strategy of the investigation, which eventually led to the arrest and conviction of Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister. The film also features interviews with the two young men, both of whom are now serving life sentences, as well as conversations with their families.

Little Hope was Arson is available on iTunes and is currently playing in select theaters in Houston, Lubbock, Tyler, and Edom. To see a trailer and showtimes, go to littlehopewasarson.com.

Updates from Augusta

Since 2006, Denton County attorney William Brotherton has served as a gallery guard at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. This year, Brotherton is working the 14th hole and sending us updates from the green.

4/13/15

Well, the Masters turned out just like I had hoped with Jordan Spieth winning his first Masters at age 21. He was only the fifth wire-to-wire winner and he successfully fought off charges by Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. Tiger Woods gave a little excitement to the crowd as he looked like he might be making a surge, but he ended up just shooting five under to Jordan Spieth's 18 under. Jordan didn't break Tiger’s low record of 18 under – he just tied it when he bogeyed 18. For now, Tiger’s record is safe, but with Jordan due to play for many years to come, I'm sure many other records are going to fall. With the Masters over until next year, it's time for me to head back to Texas.

4/12/15

What a Masters! I was standing on 17 when Jordan Spieth double bogeyed and dropped to 16 under. The crowd was clearly disappointed because at 18 under he had tied Tiger Woods' record for low score at the Masters and I think so many people want him to win that green jacket! However, the roars of the crowd as Tiger Woods came up 14 were reminiscent of his earlier glory days, and the gallery cheered him on after he posted three consecutive birdies and he appeared to be making a charge. A bogey at 18 may have put the kibosh on that but one never knows with Tiger Woods.

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State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program

It’s not too late to plan your summer vacation, so check out the relaxing travel deals available on your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program website! You’ll find great deals on lodging, cruises, travel accessories and more.

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Foundation seeking entries for Spirit of FOI Award

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is accepting entries for the 2015 Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award. The award recognizes outstanding work in promoting open government and the public’s right to know.

Nominations are open to newspaper, broadcast, and online media news organizations with work published or broadcast in the 2014 calendar year. All entries must contain the following:

  • A letter, headed with the name of the person or organization nominated and the classification entered, explaining the effort being cited
  • PDFs of pages containing the coverage being entered
  • Additional support documents or letters as deemed necessary

A nomination can be a single news story or series; an editorial or series of editorials; columns; editorial cartoons; or a community FOI project. All entries must be submitted electronically by midnight Friday, May 8 to kelley.shannon@foift.org with the subject line FOI AWARD.

 

 

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SXSW panel: SEC updates change the crowdfunding scene

Thousands of actors, producers, and filmmakers assembled for this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference & Festival to attend screenings, keynotes, and workshops. At the Austin Convention Center, attorney Dan Satorius was on hand to offer advice to independent filmmakers hoping to raise money in support of their projects.

During his panel “Other People’s Money: Investors and Crowdfunding,” Satorius, who practices entertainment law in Minneapolis, Minnesota, walked through the details of finance rules and answered questions on how to avoid legal pitfalls when funding a film.

While Satorius touched on the history of Blue Sky Laws and the felonies, fines, and suits that can come from not complying with investing regulations, he also devoted time to talking about safe harbor regulations and the 2012 JOBS Act, which has changed the way filmmakers can receive investments.

In 2013, in compliance with the Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted an amendment to Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933. Among other details, the change allows general solicitation for offerings if investors can be verified as accredited. Prior to the update, companies were not allowed to engage in advertising in connection with offerings, including announcements in newspaper or online spaces.

While the amendment comes with some fine print, such as a list of verification methods for determining who is considered an “accredited investor,” it seems to be a game-changer for filmmakers.

The panel wrapped up with a Q&A.