Posted inSpecial EventState BarTexas Minority Counsel ProgramUncategorized

TMCP speaker to discuss data privacy during Cyber Security Awareness Month

In recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, attorneys can listen to speakers Hyattye O. Simmons and Deborah Butler discuss the importance of “Cyber Security and Data Privacy” during the 23rd Annual Texas Minority Counsel Program (TMCP) from 4:15 to 4:45 p.m. on October 15 at the Westin Houston Memorial City hotel.

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Posted inCriminal LawJudiciaryNewsTexas Young Lawyers Association

Judge shows binge-drinking video to juvenile alcohol offenders

A former paramedic and police chief, Judge Kevin Madison knows the dangers of teenage drinking in terrifying detail. “I’ve had to remove bodies from cars,” Madison said. “It’s bad enough when they’re adults. But 15, 16 years old … it’s horrible.”

Many of those wrecks were the result of alcohol, Madison said, and as presiding judge of Lakeway Municipal Court of Record No. 1, he has continued to see his share of underage drinking cases, which result in varied consequences not limited to just drunk driving.

So when Madison recently watched The Unconscious Truth – The Physical and Legal Effects of Underage Binge Drinking, produced by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, it struck a chord with him. He decided to require each juvenile in his court with a minor in consumption of alcohol conviction to attend a screening of the video as a probation requirement.

The Unconscious Truth is extremely well scripted and produced,” Madison said. “The acting is tremendous and it resonates with a powerful message that hosting teen drinking parties isn’t cool—it is illegal, unethical, and dangerous! This video will save lives in Texas.”

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Posted inEducationLaw SchoolsLocal BarsNewsUncategorized

UH Law Center to offer free classes Saturday on basic legal rights

The People’s Law School at the University of Houston Law Center will be back in session from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature more than 40 volunteer lawyers, judges, and law professors teaching courses in 14 areas of law.

Classes will include business law, tax, employment, health insurance, consumer law, credit and debt collection, wills and estates, family law, insurance law, landlord-tenant law, justice court, Social Security, and how to deal with an attorney. Continue Reading

Posted inArticles

Civility in Lawyers’ Writing

This article originally appeared in two parts in the Spring and Summer issues of the Missouri Bar’s quarterly magazine, Precedent. Reprinted with permission of the Missouri Bar and the author.

A few years ago, American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zack decried the legal profession’s “continuing slide into the gutter of incivility.”[i] An ABA resolution “affirm[ed] the principle of civility as a foundation for democracy and the rule of law, and urge[d] lawyers to set a high standard for civil discourse.”[ii]

The ABA initiative echoes federal and state courts that call civility “a linchpin of our legal system,”[iii] a “bedrock principle,”[iv] and “a hallmark of professionalism.”[v] Justice Anthony M. Kennedy says that civility “defines our common cause in advancing the rule of law.”[vi] Chief Justice Warren E. Burger called civility a “lubricant[] that prevent[s] lawsuits from turning into combat.”[vii] “Courtesy is an essential element of effective advocacy,” agrees Justice John Paul Stevens.[viii]

The adversary system’s pressures can strain the tone and tenor of a lawyer’s oral speech, but the strain on civility can be especially great when lawyers write. Words on paper arrive without the facial expression, tone of voice, body language, and contemporaneous opportunity for explanation that can soothe face-to-face communication. Writing appears cold on the page, dependent not necessarily on what the writer intends or implies, but on what readers infer.

This article is in three parts. Part I describes two manifestations of incivility, a lawyer’s written derision of an opponent, and a lawyer’s written disrespect of the court. Part II describes how either manifestation can weaken the client’s cause. Part III describes how incivility in writing can also compromise both the lawyer’s own personal enrichment and the lawyer’s professional standing among the bench and bar.
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Posted inLocal BarsNewsPeople

DBA executive director announces pending retirement

Cathy MaherThe Dallas Bar Association will lose its longtime Executive Director Cathy Maher when she retires in just over a year at the end of 2016. The DBA Board of Directors announced Maher’s decision at a recent meeting.

“I am very grateful to have spent almost four decades with this outstanding organization and deeply honored to lead it for the last 21 years,” Maher said in a press release. “I am very proud of what the Dallas Bar has accomplished.”

During Maher’s time with the DBA, she helped lead a $14 million fundraising campaign to build the Pavilion addition to the Belo Mansion, which accommodates the 10,000-plus member association and also serves as an event venue. In addition to overseeing the organization, she manages the operations of its Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Lawyer Referral Service, and the Belo Mansion and Pavilion. The DBA has been recognized several times by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas during Maher’s leadership tenure.

Posted inLocal BarsUncategorizedVeterans

Grant expands legal services for Austin-area veterans

The Austin Bar has announced plans to expand its ongoing Veterans Free Legal Advice Clinic in Travis County and launch additional clinics in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, and Williamson counties. Funding for the expansion comes from a $127,800 grant provided by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

According to a release issued by the Austin Bar, approximately 2,065 veterans have been assisted through its free clinics over the past five years. The Austin Bar Foundation will partner with other local bars and area veterans groups to make the additional clinics a reality. Attorney Douglas Lawrence, previously with Volunteer Legal Services, has been hired to oversee the development.

The Austin Bar’s next Veterans Free Legal Advice Clinic will take place on Monday, November 9, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic. For more information, go to

Posted inEducationLaw SchoolsPeople

Law student videos show off knowledge, love for the law

When Meg Penrose was in law school more than 20 years ago, there was no social media, there was no YouTube, there was no iPhone. Penrose remembers spending many courses sitting in a circle with her classmates reading books. Now a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, Penrose has realized that she needed to develop a creative approach to testing if she wanted to keep this new “visual generation” excited about the law and to help them deeply understand the curriculum.

So Penrose has been giving students in her Constitutional Law class the option of producing a four- to 10-minute video project in place of taking an essay-based final exam; in her First Amendment class, she requires students to go the video route.

“My thinking is that as we move forward and as society is changing, we as educators have to adapt,” Penrose said. “We have to figure out the best way to train our students so that they learn—and fall in love—with the constitution.”

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