Texas corporate counsel community raises $71,026 for civil legal aid

The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in conjunction with the General Counsel Forum, raised $71,026 for civil legal aid during the 3rd Annual Charity Golf Classic held Thursday in San Antonio.

This year’s event exceeded the amount raised during last year’s tournament and is more than double the amount raised in the inaugural tournament. The proceeds will be donated to the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Legal aid organizations funded by foundation help more than 100,000 low-income Texas families each year. Many need help with critical civil legal issues impacting their very existence such as securing safety for victims of domestic abuse, obtaining medical care for veterans and the elderly, and helping families maintain their housing. Due to a lack of resources, only about 20 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met.

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Harvest Celebration raises more than $668,000

The Houston Bar Association, Houston Bar Foundation, and Houston Bar Association Auxiliary hosted the 65th Harvest Celebration on Monday, Nov. 17, raising over $668,000 for pro bono efforts. More than 1,000 Houston Bar Association members and guests attended the event, which honored area law firms, corporate legal departments, and individuals who are providing pro bono services to Houstonians.

Member benefits - marketing and managing your practice

Marketing and managing your practice can be a full-time job. Save on products and services to make that job easier with your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program.

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Texas Supreme Court approves restyled evidence rules

The Texas Supreme Court approved an order Wednesday adopting revised evidence rules, triggering a comment period that ends Feb. 28.

The revisions to the Texas Rules of Evidence are intended to mirror 2011 amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence, with the goal of making the rules easier to understand, according to the court order.

Final approval of the restyled rules will be effective April 1.


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Lessons and impressions from 50 years of practicing law

By James Boanerges

When I was attending Lamar High School in Houston, a lawyer and an accountant came to campus one day to address the student body. The first speaker, famous criminal defense attorney Percy Foreman, made a huge impression with his booming voice and engaging smile. The accountant, a mild-mannered, nondescript fellow, simply could not compete. Several years later, working as an attorney, I was taking a tour of students around the courthouse. While we were waiting for the elevators in the basement of the criminal courts building, Foreman walked up. I proudly introduced him to the group, and he graciously beamed out to the kids as he had to me. One of those students may have written his or her account of becoming a lawyer as a result of that experience.

In the summer of 1962, I had three years of college, no LSAT, no degree. Only the idea of becoming a lawyer. My new bride and I visited law schools in Texas, all of which turned me down and told me to come back with a degree—except for Baylor. I found out that the process of making lawyers was similar to selecting a jury; only about a third stick around. This truth was built into the design of the classrooms, with each year’s class size getting progressively smaller as more students gave up or were not allowed to return. Because I had no undergraduate degree and had a wife and child, I had no alternative but to study and pass. I was licensed in 1964 at age 22.

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State Bar advises on Erwin Center street closures and parking ahead of new lawyer induction on Monday

On the morning of Nov. 17, the State Bar of Texas will congratulate and administer the oath of office to more than 1,000 new attorneys at the New Lawyer Induction Ceremony, held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

If you are a newly licensed attorney or a proud family member or friend attending the event, you’ll notice that the grounds surrounding the Erwin Center are looking very different. With construction of the Dell Medical School Project and the realignment of Red River Street fully underway, some streets and parking lots are currently closed. Please read on for important information regarding these changes.

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Texas Bar Foundation Award Nominations

Nominations are being accepted for the 2015 Texas Bar Foundation Awards Program. All nomination packets should be submitted and received in entirety to the Texas Bar Foundation office by Jan. 15, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.txbf.org.


From dread to hope: How I confronted my drinking problem

Editor’s note: This is the eighth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome 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 us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Law school made me an alcoholic. Or, to be fair to law school, it was during law school that I crossed over to alcoholism.

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David R. Olivas on being a veteran

A year after graduating from law school, Navy Reservist David R. Olivas was deployed to Afghanistan, where he spent time in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh, Kunduz, and Bagram. His tour of duty ended on Jan. 5, 2014, and the 35-year-old currently resides in Flower Mound, practicing criminal law as a Dallas County assistant district attorney.

Tell us about when you joined the service. What went into your decision?
I was going to school at my parents’ desire instead of my own. I wanted to travel and work, so I thought I’d join the Navy. I decided to tell my parents about my intent to drop out of college and join the service. My dad was eating enchiladas and had just taken a bite when I stated, “Guys, I think I’m going to join the Navy.” He stopped chewing and looked at me with complete shock.

Why did you choose this military branch?
I chose the Navy for many reasons: I wanted to leave Texas; I loved the uniform; the Navy would teach me a foreign language; and I knew I would get to see the world. I left Texas for training; I got to wear the Navy Blues; the Navy taught me some Arabic; and I became fluent in Spanish. As fate would have it, I was stationed in San Antonio for nearly eight years. I did, however, get to deploy with the British and Dutch navies. After almost nine years, I quit active duty, joined the Navy Reserve, and moved back to DFW to attend Texas Wesleyan School of Law’s evening program. The Monday after graduation from law school, my chief told me I was on the short list to deploy. One year later, I was stepping off a plane in Afghanistan.

Did you find that there were a lot of attorneys in the military or that many soldiers talked about wanting to become attorneys?
In the Navy, we have what’s called a sea-lawyer. This individual usually knew it all and let everyone else know it.

Has your military experience influenced the way you practice law?
Leadership, devotion to duty, and time management were the biggest tools the Navy taught me. These tools have allowed me to manage my caseloads and separate what is important and what is not. My leadership experience influences how I look at cases, associate with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and treat everyone with the same level of respect. We were taught to become consummate professionals. I strive to maintain that reputation.

Do you see similarities in being a solider and being a lawyer?
We know when to speak and, most important, when to keep quiet.

If you could give someone a piece of advice before joining the military, what would it be?
No one will look out for your interest better than yourself. The military will use you for everything, so learn your job, do it well, and use the military for everything you can—education, training, and certifications.

What does being a veteran mean to you?
To me, a veteran is reliable. We do our job right and work efficiently.


Wills of World War I soldiers available online

In 2013, the United Kingdom’s HM Courts and Tribunals Service made thousands of World War I soldiers’ wills available to the public. The documents have since been viewed more than 1 million times, and more than 10,000 copies of wills have been ordered. This project is meant to provide insight into UK WWI heroes for historians, genealogists, and those whose ancestors fought in the Great War.

Before going to the front lines of battle, many soldiers past and present execute wills to simplify the settling of their affairs in the event they are killed in combat. The informal, short-form WWI wills released by the UK contain information like the soldier’s domicile, regimental number and rank, cause of death (i.e., “killed in action France,” “killed in action from gas poisoning,” or, simply, “died of wounds”), and date of death. Some records also include forms stating to whom the soldier would be leaving his property and the address of the beneficiary (many soldiers gave their property to their mothers), along with a “list of clothing to be in the possession of troops proceeding to join the expeditionary force.” Some even have handwritten letters to family expressing fears, hopes, and instructions for belongings.

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