Law firm-sponsored CrossFit event raises funds for Texas Children's Hospital

Last Saturday in Houston, in the name of charity, 600 people filled an empty parking lot to face several minutes of increasingly intense pain while pumping out a series of box jumps, push presses, situps, lunges, pushups, kettlebell swings, squats, and burpees—repeated a total of 57 times.

Sponsored by the Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, the Battle Buddy 57 CrossFit event raised more than $12,000 for research, education, and training as part of the Olivia Grace Stevens Endowed Fund in Neonatology at Texas Children’s Hospital.

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Member benefits - travel deals

The holidays are nearly over, so it’s a great time to check out the relaxing travel deals available on your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program website! Check out the great deals on lodging, cruises, travel accessories and more available to you today.


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Pin and Win: State Bar of Texas Pinterest challenge starts today

What does a Texas lawyer want for the holidays? Office accessories? Travel gear? A comfy sweatshirt? Log on to Pinterest and show us!

We’re looking for law-related gift lists—things you want, need, or would like to share with others—for our State Bar of Texas Holiday Wish List Pinterest Challenge. Simply create a Pinterest board with your favorite State Bar merchandise and law-related goods and you could win one of the State Bar-branded items pinned there!


To enter the challenge, you must:

-Be a member of the State Bar of Texas in good standing.

-Follow the State Bar of Texas Pinterest account.

-Email a link to your board to

-Create a board titled “Texas Lawyer Wish List” that includes:

1) A link to these official guidelines.

2) At least three items from the State Bar of Texas merchandise board that you would give to another lawyer or have in your dream office. Each pin should have a brief description of why you pinned it, along with the hashtag #TXLawyerWishList.


At the conclusion of the contest, which will run from Dec. 12 to midnight Dec. 19, a panel of judges will select the most creative and inspiring board and its creator will win one item from the State Bar of Texas merchandise board that is pinned to it.


Web links from Benson Varghese

Feedly: Feedly is my favorite news aggregator. It allows you to review the latest news from hundreds of sources within just a few minutes.

Google Alerts: Google Alerts notifies you when a term is used on the Internet. It is particularly useful if you are handling a case that has garnered media attention or if you want the most up-to-date information on a legal issue. 


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Five Questions: Austin lawyer-physician Alejandro Moreno on CIA torture report

Alejandro Moreno—associate director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin—shares his insight into the Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, released by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday, Dec. 9. The report, parts of which are being disputed by the CIA and some politicians, alleges that CIA officials used brutal interrogation methods against terrorism suspects, that the agency was not completely transparent with the Bush administration about its activities, and that such actions did not produce meaningful results.

Moreno, a physician and Texas attorney, has cared for victims of torture and has conducted and testified in numerous medical and legal investigations of torture in the United States and abroad. He consults the nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights and co-founded and co-directed the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at Boston Medical Center, a multidisciplinary center that provides comprehensive care to survivors of torture and related trauma. He also has served as a medical and legal adviser to the Center for Survivors of Torture in Texas. Moreno additionally has led comprehensive training programs around the world for forensic physicians, prosecutors, attorneys, and adjudicators, and he has provided legal advice to NGOs and government officials overseas implementing the Istanbul Protocol—the international standard on how to conduct an effective medico-legal investigation of alleged torture and ill treatment.

All responses are the opinion of Moreno and do not necessarily indicate a reflection of the views of the State Bar of Texas.

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State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program

When the holidays are over, you might find your finances in a shambles. Lucky for you, you can save on products and services to make your money go farther and protect your identity with your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program.


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Free legal clinic for veterans in Conroe

Houston-area attorneys will offer advice and assistance to veterans during a legal clinic this weekend. The no-cost event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Ct., Ste. 100. No appointment is necessary.

Lawyers will be on site to advise on any matter of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Spouses of deceased veterans are also welcome to attend. Those who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney.

The legal clinic is a service of the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative. For more information, call (713) 759-1133 or go to


Random Profile: Will Sparkman, Houston

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 95,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Best thing about being a lawyer:  Learning about new technologies while I prepare new patent applications.

Favorite saying/quote: “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.”  Robert Frost.

Culinary talent:  I have been known to make a mean pancake.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be?  Bubba Watson.  I would love to be that good at golf (even just for a day).

Who would you want playing you in a movie?  I can’t imagine that being a very exciting movie, but I think Wil Wheaton would make a great intellectual property attorney.

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Five years for freedom: How two Texas attorneys helped get a man off death row and out of prison.

Manuel Velez was spending his first months in solitary confinement in Huntsville when attorneys began reviewing the trial that put him on death row. The Dallas firm of Carrington Coleman had heard concerns from the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law that Velez might be mentally impaired. So the firm, which has a strong pro bono program, sent an email to its four dozen attorneys to see if any were interested in taking on the case. Lyndon Bittle and Neil Burger, as well as several others, volunteered their time. Once they got the file and began reading the trial transcripts, they realized there was much more to the story.

A construction worker from Brownsville, Velez had been convicted of and sentenced to death months earlier for killing his girlfriend’s one-year old child, Angel, who Velez had found Oct. 31, 2005, on the couch with troubled breathing. At the hospital, Angel was declared brain dead and then removed from life support. The autopsy revealed that blunt force trauma had fractured the boy’s skull in two places and resulted in a subdural hematoma—bleeding that surrounds the brain. Both Velez and his girlfriend were charged in Angel’s death.

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The TBJ December issue

We explore criminal law, from the transformation of federal sentencing to the Michael Morton Act and how it has changed the way cases are handled in Texas. Plus: Training the state's next generation of nonprofit lawyers, dealing with mental health issues, and drafting clear and effective findings. Go to the Texas Bar Journal to read the entire issue.