Take steps to prevent holiday depression

It has begun. The final remnants of the Thanksgiving meal have been discarded. Packages from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sit on your couch or kitchen table waiting to be wrapped. Invitations to open houses and holiday parties are coming in the mail. Christmas concerts at school and church are populating the calendar. Yes, the holidays are back again!

For lawyers, the innumerable additional tasks and responsibilities of this time of year are heaped on top of the demands of clients, courts and opposing counsel. Time, energy and, for many, enthusiasm are in short supply.  Stress, anxiety and persistent feelings of “I’m not doing enough” all feed into the experience of depression that affects so many of us during the holidays.

Here are a few suggestions on creating a shift in your approach to the seemingly insatiable demands of this time of year:

  • Set your priorities for the holidays. Take a moment to determine the most important thing for you to do or experience before returning to life and work “as usual” in January. Break this goal down into discrete tasks and put those on your calendar. Or, write your top priority down and put it on your computer, the frame of your office door, on your dashboard, etc.  For instance, if your goal is “spending more time with the kids,” consider your decisions regarding what you do and what you decline in light of that goal.
  • Say “no” to non-essential tasks and events that conflict with that priority. If you don’t have the power to decline, try postponing until after Jan. 1 when possible.
  • Commit to taking care of yourself.  Don’t let exercise fall by the wayside. Do focus on healthy, not heavy, foods. Predetermine how much alcohol you will drink at events and stick to that commitment so you don’t waste time with a hangover or ruin goodwill over offensive behavior.

If stress, anxiety or depression become too much for you over the course of the holidays, give yourself a “time out.” Push back from the desk and take a walk outside. Try to determine the root cause of your distress and, if possible, modify the situation. Enlist the help of those around you in making your situation better.

Remember that the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here for you. We can help you identify the cause of your distress and come up with a plan for addressing it in a healthy manner.  Call 1-800-343-8527. All communications are strictly confidential.

Bree Buchanan, J.D., Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

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Texas Access to Justice Foundation observes Prime Partner Bank Recognition Month and launches "I Bank on Justice" campaign

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation is recognizing banks and financial institutions that help invest in justice through the Texas Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program during Prime Partner Bank month in November. More than 70 banks and credit unions are committed to being Prime Partners and directly benefit the funding of civil legal services in Texas communities.

Prime Partner banks voluntarily pay higher interest rates on IOLTA accounts, helping close the gap in legal services funding. These banks have contributed millions of dollars in IOLTA revenue throughout Texas.

The Foundation recognizes the 13 banks that have participated in this program since its inception more than five years ago with the Prime Partners in Justice Award. They include:

Bank

First National Bank Southwest

Location(s)

Frisco, Plano

Huntington State Bank

Huntington, Lufkin, Nacogdoches

 

LegacyTexas Bank

Plano, Dallas, Fort Worth, and others

 

Lindale State Bank

Lindale

 

Lone Star National Bank

Pharr, Brownsville, Edinburg, McAllen, and others

 

NewFirst National Bank

El Campo, Houston, Victoria, and others

 

North Dallas Bank & Trust Co.

Dallas, Addison, Frisco, Plano, and others

 

Northstar Bank of Texas

Denton, Grapevine, Lewisville, and others

 

PlainsCapital Bank

Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and others

 

Preston State Bank

Dallas

 

Security State Bank

Littlefield, Lubbock, Olton

 

Texas Brand Bank

Garland

 

Town North Bank

Dallas, Carrollton, Farmers Branch

 

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Veterans Legal Initiative coalition legal clinics

Two legal clinics for veterans in Texas were held last week.

On November 16, the Bell County Bar Association sponsored a legal advice clinic for veterans at American Legion Post 573 in Harker Heights (near Killeen) in Bell County. JoAnn Merica 
(pictured) presented a CLE program for members of the Bell County Bar, then attorneys stayed to volunteer for the clinic. DeLaine Ward of the Austin Bar Association also came down to assist. Ken Valka, president of the Bell County Bar Association, along with Cynthia Champion and Cindi Parker, co-executive directors of the Bell County Bar, facilitated the Bell County Bar’s sponsorship role. 40 veterans received assistance.

On November 17, Prof. Bridget Fusilier held Baylor Law School’s Wills Clinic, where 25 veterans had wills and estate planning documents executed with the help of volunteer attorneys and law students. 11 more are scheduled for execution at Baylor’s December clinic.

These were two successful events as part of the Veterans Legal Initiative coalition and Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans
 

Texas Legal Protection Plan turns 40

The Texas Legal Protection Plan (TLPP) is celebrating its 40th anniversary at the Bob Bullock Museum in Austin on Friday, November 30th. Forty years ago, the State Bar created the Texas Legal Protection Plan in order to provide the citizens of Texas with access to affordable legal representation. For four decades, the organization has assisted thousands of Texans with their legal needs ranging from simple advice and document preparation to family law matters, estate planning, consumer protection matters, and more. 

The event will pay special tribute to a select group of individuals who have contributed to the success of TLPP as well as organizations that have faithfully served the legal community and beyond. Some of the honorees include the American Bar Association (ABA), the State Bar of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association, and the Texas Veterans Commission. Additionally, the event will recognize a few of our long standing provider attorneys from around the state who have worked tirelessly to ensure that Texans get their legal needs met. TLPP will also honor the Honorable Joel Bennett, who has committed his entire life to serving. Finally, the event will recognize the “Founding Father” of the Texas Legal Protection Plan, Franklin Jones, Jr.  

The event will feature remarks from the ABA President-elect, Mr. Jim Silkenat. For more information about this event, please visit http://www.tlpp.org/.

Random Profile: Camelia Lopez Shoemaker, Plano

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next? 

Most important career lesson: It’s a small, small world. Your reputation and how you treat others will be remembered.

If you weren't an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in? I have always wanted to be a restaurant critic.

Favorite TV program: Modern Family

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State Bar of Texas merchandise ON SALE!

The State Bar of Texas merchandise store is having a sale just in time for the holidays! Men’s and women’s button down shirts have been marked down to just $23 (originally $47). Women’s: White (pictured), 97% Cotton, 3% Spandex. Men’s: White or Blue (pictured), 100% Cotton.

Get yours while supplies last. Visit the Shop With Us link on the State Bar of Texas website to see this item as well as other great State Bar of Texas merchandise.

Women's White Button Down Men's Blue Button Down

 

Spotlight on Veteran John Dennis Thomson

As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, the State Bar of Texaswould like to honor some of those who served our country by spotlighting interviews from The Veterans’ History Project, a joint project between the Texas Court Reporters Association and the State Bar of Texas. The following post is an excerpt from an interview with John Dennis Thomson who served in the United States Air Force from 1958-1978.

MS. LONG: Do you remember arriving in Vietnam?

MR. THOMSON: Oh, yes.

MS. LONG: What was that like?

MR. THOMSON: Well, it was on Da Nang Air Base. And it was a huge base with a Marine establishment across the road from the Air Force establishment, so – but I actually – while I was assigned to 6924th Security Squadron that was down on Main Base Da Nang, I was actually assigned on top of Monkey Mountain at the Tactical Air Control Center North Sector, and provided special intelligence information to the commander and his staff that ran the control of all the aircraft in the north end of Vietnam.

MS. LONG: Wow. What was it like being in Vietnam?

MR. THOMSON: Well, actually, I had probably as soft a duty as anybody had because we were out of rocket range, and so when we could hear combat things going on we'd grab cameras and binoculars to look and see what we could see. But we were basically in a very, very safe location.

We traveled up the side of the mountain, and down at the end of the duty day every day. It seems like we were about 700 feet off the ground there.

MS. LONG: Did you see any combat in Vietnam?

MR. THOMSON: Well, there was -- I was assigned to this base that was down at Main Base Da Nang and there were regular rocket attacks, but fortunately we were out of rocket range where we were, so we grabbed cameras and binoculars and took pictures from up above.

MS. LONG: Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences while you were in Vietnam.

MR. THOMSON: Well, unequivocally the most memorable was the raid on the Sontay Prison Camp. That's S-O-N-T-A-Y.

I – the commander of Tactical Air Control Center North Sector was a full colonel who had, I can't remember how many years service, and I was there to support him with information that was above top secret information. And, so, my office was a little vault that was next to the tactical air control center. Because a top secret clearance didn't get you into the vault that was my space.

And we basically got the special intelligence information and passed it to the people that were authorized to have that out on the control center floor that was right next to us. And our -- our office space was probably not as big as this apartment, but it took a special intelligence clearance to get into that particular area.

And when the raid on the Sontay Prison Camp was being planned, I got called in to the colonel's office, and there were three colonels in his office, and we talked for maybe 10 minutes. And he had been a Doolittle Raider, so he was not a low-key individual, and they excused him and told him they'd be done with his office – we'd be done with his office in about 45 minutes, and they excused this colonel.

MS. LONG: What is a Doolittle Raider?

MR. THOMSON: Oh, that was a raid in World War II –

MS. LONG: Okay.

MR. THOMSON: – that was a significant thing. And, you know, I wasn't there for World War II.

MS. LONG: Sure.

MR. THOMSON: But he was one of the pilots that had flown in Europe on that particular raid.

And, so, anyway, one of the things that they told me was that they needed me to run a extension cord on the special intelligence telephone, out of our special intelligence area that was about the size of this, out onto the operations floor where the individuals were controlling the aircraft that were flying over northern South Vietnam and North Vietnam. And I was supposed to run an extension cord out there to one of the radar places.

And during the raid I sat next to General Manor that ran the raid, and fed him information that wasn't supposed to be out in that particular area so that he had the latest information on what was going on at the time.

MS. LONG: How long did – did the raid last?

MR. THOMSON: Oh, probably – probably – from the time we set up till it was completely over it was probably somewhere between three and five hours.

MS. LONG: Wow.

MR. THOMSON: And when we got north – the raid was unsuccessful because the POWs had been moved from that site to another location, so we didn't pick up anybody at all in that raid.

The other interesting thing to me about that is that I went to – I don't even remember what school it was – after I was back here in San Antonio. And I went to – a terrorism school. And at the terrorism school – this was two or three years after the Vietnam War situation. And the colonel that was running the terrorism school was introduced as one of the raiders who would have been picked up had Sontay Raid been successful.

MS. LONG: Wow.

MR. THOMSON: So I – when we had our first break – I was a captain at the time – went up and introduced myself and explained to him that – what had – how I had been involved in that. And he said, "Captain, I don't know what your plans were, but we're having dinner tonight so we can talk."

And they had actually been moved – apparently unrelated to the raid, but they were – had been moved to a camp that was close enough that they could hear and figured out what was going on. And he said, "It didn't make any difference that you didn't get us, because we knew you tried." But it still impacts on me. Read the full interview.

Spotlight on Veteran Jerry Davis Minton

As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, the State Bar of Texas would like to honor some of those who served our country by spotlighting interviews from The Veterans’ History Project, a joint project between the Texas Court Reporters Association and the State Bar of Texas. The following post is an excerpt from an interview with Jerry Davis Minton who served in the United States Air Force from 1951-1955. 

MR. KUBES: Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences.

MR. MINTON: You mean missions?

MR. KUBES: Yes.

MR. MINTON: Well, one that I remember very clearly was on Christmas Eve of 1952. By that time I was a flight commander. I was made a flight commander, I think, on December the 1st, '52. They assigned our flight, which was A-flight of the 80th, for a night mission on Christmas Eve, and I took it. And as I told you, we didn't really have the equipment for all-weather, and when I went out to the airplane, preflighted it, it was snowing and the ceiling was very low, and – which I didn't like, but, you know, it didn't make any difference what you liked. That was what you were assigned.

And I took off and it was in the overcast almost immediately, popped out on top, and went up north of the assigned section of the MSR, which was just south of Sinanju, North Korea. And it was clear on top and then in the front, but the snow disappeared by the time I got the other side of our front lines. I remember flying about 30 miles west of Pyonyang. It was their capital then and the enemy capital today. And I was surprised to see lights all over Pyonyang; not like Fort Worth or New York or something on Christmas Eve, but a lot of lights, and it kind of surprised me.

But I found a – I found a convoy and dropped on them, and I was really apprehensive about making an approach back to the base in snow and low ceilings. The only approach we would have had would have been the so-called GCI approach, ground-controlled instrument approach, which we didn't practice very often. And I got back to about 15 miles south of our lines and looked up ahead of me at the base, and the thing had cleared out and the stars were out. And I was one happy pilot because I wasn't going to have to make an approach in the snow.

And when I got back to the quarters, people had champagne and other things and all the goodies that they had gotten from home, and they were having a Christmas Eve celebration. And I – I just thought that was absolutely great. I was glad to get that one out of the way and then celebrate Christmas Eve. It was nice. Read the full interview.

Spotlight on Veteran John Dwight Burcham

As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, the State Bar of Texas would like to honor some of those who served our country by spotlighting interviews from The Veterans’ History Project, a joint project between the Texas Court Reporters Association and the State Bar of Texas. The following post is an excerpt from an interview with John Dwight Burcham who served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942-1945.

MR. TARRANCE: You were running out of gas? 

MR. BURCHAM: Running out of gas and running out  daylight. And so the navigator, he's so distraught, he  said, I'll jump out. I'll jump out. I said you can jump  out if you want to. Everybody else is going to stay. So  you do what you want but whatever you do, do it now  because we're going down. And so I drug the field with  the landing lights on. It was that dark. The field — the beach. And I couldn't see anything. It looked fairly  level. So I said boys, we're going in. 

And so after buzzing it a couple of times, I came in  and touched down. And boy, it was – I thought, oh, boy,  this is nice. I can't believe it's that smooth. And all  of a sudden we hit a ditch. The nose wheel went out and the sparks from the nose gear coming up just filled the  cockpit absolutely. It was just like a ton of fire. And  then when the nose wheel let go, then the left main gear  let go and the left wing went down in the sand and the  engine on the side went down in the sand. So all of a  sudden we were there. We went up – the tail went up  vertical. I swear it was vertical because in that ditch – it went up on the nose of the airplane. And I thought  we're going to burn. All of a sudden it stopped there and  settled back down on the tail. 

And I got out of a window I swear wasn't much bigger  than that (indicating). I knew I couldn't help the guys  in the back so I thought we all need to do the best we  could to get away before it exploded. And it was a pretty  good drop down there to the sand. But, anyway, I got out.  This whole time I was the calmest I think I've ever been.  I never got excited. I never got afraid. And I jumped  out and ran away where I thought I was far enough from the  airplane that I knew it was going to explode and my knees  just gave out. All of a sudden, I just, woe. We had the  right wing was up in the air as a result of the left wing  being in the sand so we got on the radio again, tried to  raise somebody, couldn't raise anybody. 

MR. TARRANCE: Everybody got out all right? 

MR. BURCHAM: Everybody got out. One of the belly– the belly gunner got hit by a gun and just got a small cut  on his forehead, and that's the only person who was  injured at all. 

So we got out and everybody got out and since  the number four engine was up in the air, we got it  started. That's when we tried to call on the radio and  couldn't raise anybody. So I said, well, somebody has got  to go downtown where this town – we didn't even know  where we were. And it was Reggio de Calabria which was an  old town on the Mediterranean there just across the  straits of Messina from Italy. So I selected a guy name  Tex. I've forgotten his name now. He was our top gunner.  He was from Nocona, Texas. He and I – all we had was our  45's. We started in towards town. And what I wanted to  do is call the Air Force. 

So I ran into – we ran into a donkey-drawn cart and  we talked them into taking us into town and to the Mayor's  office. He was very gracious. He called – got Rome on  the phone for me – Air Corps in Rome – headquarters in  Rome. I told them we were down. Nobody was hurt. The  airplane was not flyable out. And so they said, well,  we'll send somebody for you as soon as we can. Well,  three weeks later – we lived under the wing of the  airplane for three weeks. Read the full interview.

Spotlight on Veteran John Mark Blaze

As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, the State Bar of Texas would like to honor some of those who served our country by spotlighting interviews from The Veterans’ History Project, a joint project between the Texas Court Reporters Association and the State Bar of Texas. The following post is an excerpt from an interview with John Mark Blaze who served in the United States Coast Guard from 1942-1945. 

Our ship would go all over the Philippine Islands to Mindanao to Samar to Kurgan to Borneo, wherever American troops were that needed stuff, we would bring it to them. In Mindanao, we had a gun fight. My – my eyes were burned up pretty bad. So then they had to take me from there to back to Manila and put me on a hospital ship, the auxiliary hospital, called the Refuge AH1, Auxiliary Hospital 1, the Refuge.

They left my sea bags and everything on the ship. Now, I had no ship – I had no place to go except be on the ear, eyes, nose, and throat there.

A little story happens while I was a patient on eyes, nose, and throat ward there. My eyes were bandaged. My mail was brought to me from my wife, and they stuck it under the pillow of my bed, and they said that there would be somebody within the next two or three days come by to be able to read my mail to me.

In the meantime, a sailor came up and asked me – said, Hey, Sailor, do you mind if I read your letters to you? I said, Yeah, please. And he looked at the postmark, and he said, You're from Crown Point, Indiana? I said, No, I'm from Gary. He said, I'm from Gary, too. And so the story goes. We met there in a little ward in the Philippines about 12, 13,000 miles away from home.

Now, I never seen the guy, and he had what they called infectious sinus. They could – nothing could cure him, because the only medicines they had at that time was penicillin. So they had to take him back to the United States. Now, I didn't have his name written down or nothing. I woke up the next day, and I asked about the guy who read the letters, and he said he's gone. He left.

About five years later, I was a chef at a restaurant in Gary. A guy came in to sell me meat, and he was a driver for the Wonder Bread Company, and he was kind of black market at that time, and he had a shelf underneath his truck that he had – a dry ice down there, and he had meat he was trying to sell to restaurants and whatnot. And he kept pestering me for about three or four days, and I wouldn't buy any meat from him.

Then he asks me, he said, Were you in service? And I said, Yeah. He said, I was, too. He said, Where were you? I said, South Pacific. He said, Mine was, too. He said, But I got a medical discharge. I had an infectious sinus. I said, Oh my God, were you on the Refuge? He said, Yeah. His name was Frank Jason, and we became lifelong friends after that. Read the full interview.

Spotlight on Veteran Captain Earl Dean Milton

As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, the State Bar of Texas would like to honor some of those who served our country by spotlighting interviews from The Veterans’ History Project, a joint project between the Texas Court Reporters Association and the State Bar of Texas. The following post is an excerpt from an interview with retired Captain Earl Dean Milton who served in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1948.

MRS. CLOWER: You did not have radar before? You were just using the star navigation?

MR. MILTON: Yes. Radar wasn't any good over the ocean, and it would help when you had land and water. It shows up real good on a screen.

MRS. CLOWER: That was a challenge.

MR. MILTON: We had to bomb Japan a few times during the war with radar. When you're in clouds and your bombardier can't see, you use radar to drop your bombs, and I was the expert on radar.

MRS. CLOWER: So you would say you would give the command to drop the bomb at the right time?

MR. MILTON: Uh-huh.

MRS. CLOWER: And this was, what'd we say, 15 missions?

MRS. MILTON: Twenty-two --

MRS. CLOWER: Three fire bombs and 22 weather.

MR. MILTON: The weather mission we carried a bomb, a 500-pound bomb, and we would drop it anywhere we wanted to. So I would say I bombed Japan 23 regular times, 2 weather missions, makes 25. So I bombed Japan 25 times.

MRS. CLOWER: I'm sure that they remember you, too. Did you receive any kind of recognitions or medals?

MR. MILTON: Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Metal, and something else. I forget what it is.

MRS. MILTON: Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Eastern Mandated Island Campaign was Bronze Star. Air Metal with two oak leaf clusters. Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Offense against Japan with Bronze Star, and then the Victory Metal for anyone who fought in the war until it was over. Distinguished Flying Cross they got from flying a low-level fire bomb mission to Tokyo.

MRS. CLOWER: That's very impressive. I'm glad you were decorated.

MR. MILTON: Yeah. My scariest time, I can tell you, 23 was — I told you we discovered the jetstream. Well, there was a big, big plan to bomb, fire bomb Tokyo. We were amongst the last ones, maybe, you know, three or four or five or 600 planes. And we came — we were coming in last. Tokyo was afire. We came in and dropped our bombs, oh, oh, oh, and all of a sudden we hit this flame. All of a sudden we were going up, up, up, up, up, up. So we finally had our radar on, but for some reason they quit working, and our pilot gave me — asked me for direction home, and I gave him what, based on when we flew up, what I had. So I gave that to him. And it was cloudy. This was the daytime, late, midafternoon, I guess you'd say. And when we got out of that smoke we were in the clouds. And I said to him — I gave him direction home. And I said, "Will you try to climb out of these clouds so I can take a fix on the sun and the moon?" My book showed me the moon would be available, visible. So we climbed and climbed, and I got up in the — where I could see my bubble, keep going up, keep going up. Finally we broke out, and I took a fix on the sun and a fix on the moon. Got back down to my desk, figured it out, couldn't believe it. So I told him what I found and new directions to get home. And, oh, my god, we were way over. I said, "Let me go check again." So I got up there and doubled up, came back down and says, "That's correct." He said, "We don't have enough gas to get home." I said, "Well, let me give you direction to Iwo Jima." I came back down and we were in the clouds again. So kept going and kept going, and finally time to be there, we still couldn't see the ground, we were in the clouds.

MRS. CLOWER: Oh, dear.

MR. MILTON: I said, "Circle, and keep going down." So we started circling and going down. Finally we broke out, bingo, there was Iwo Jima. I was sweating that one out.

MRS. CLOWER: How many people were on the plane you would normally have?

MR. MILTON: Eleven men.

MRS. CLOWER: Eleven men. You saved yourself and ten others that day. What a story. That's remarkable.

MR. MILTON: That was my scariest one.

MRS. CLOWER: Well, I would think so.

MR. MILTON: Trouble is, we wouldn't have made it if it hadn't have been for Iwo Jima. We didn't have enough gasoline to get home. Read the full interview.

Veterans Day Op-Ed, by State Bar of Texas President Buck Files

If you had been at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on October 9, you might have been curious as to the VIP’s who were being interviewed by television crews and visited with by other passengers. Were they politicians or movie stars or successful businessmen? No, they were World War II veterans who were participating in the Honor Flight Program that would fly them to our nation’s capital so that they could see the World War II Memorial. These veterans were part of “the Greatest Generation.” They are all truly treasures of our nation as are all of those who have served our great country through military service.

On Veterans Day, there will be parades and ceremonies and speeches and veterans of all our wars will be honored. During their service, all lived the words of President John F. Kennedy: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

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Random Profile - Christina Peterson, Georgetown

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-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: My favorite part is being able to offer support to someone who’s feeling vulnerable or worried. I like hearing a client say “I’ll sleep better tonight now that I’ve talked with you.”

Most important career lesson: Early in my career, I practiced criminal law which gave me a lot of trial experience. In one trial, the facts were on our side and we were confident of an acquittal on the charge of DWI. An issue came up regarding an objection which would have little, if any, impact on the outcome of the case. The prosecutor and I were arguing our positions at the bench and I got caught up proving my point. My husband acting as co-counsel, approached and slipped me a note. Thinking it must be some intriguing point of law that would seal a ruling in my favor, I opened it with a flourish, ready for my “Perry Mason” moment. Instead it said “You’ve won, don’t blow it. You’ve made your point, now shut up and sit down.” It was then I realized the importance of staying focused on acting in the client’s best interest, even if it means leaving the ego unsatisfied. 

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Texas children's hospital and Houston Bar Association partnership to provide legal assistance to low-income patients

Texas Children’s Hospital is first in Houston to introduce new medical-legal partnership to bring sick children critical legal assistance

Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Walmart support launch of program

HOUSTON – (Nov. 1, 2012) – Texas Children’s Hospital and the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers today announced the formation of a medical-legal partnership (MLP) that will provide Texas Children’s low-income patients and patient-families with critical legal assistance. This is the first partnership of its kind to be offered in the Houston area.

Through the program, a dedicated Houston Volunteer Lawyers staff attorney will provide legal advice and representation to Texas Children’s patients and their families with assistance from outside pro bono lawyers.  The project is being funded in part by a donation from Walmart, which created a successful MLP with Arkansas Children’s Hospital last year with plans to expand the benefits of MLPs to other major pediatric hospitals nationwide.

“It has always been our mission to help low-income children with all of their medical needs and this program is just another example of how we are doing that,” said Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital.  “We appreciate the generous gift from Walmart for this beneficial medical-legal partnership that will bring much-needed support to these children who do not have another place to turn for this type of legal assistance.”  

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Adoption granted!

Yesterday, the Austin Bar Association celebrated its 11th Adoption Day at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. The daylong ceremony united 40 children with their "Forever Families."

Unfortunately, many of the children in the foster care system who need to be adopted are older – and they age out of the system before they are able to find their forever families. At this year's adoption day, five teenage boys were adopted. In order to assist these adoptees with transitional cost and college expenses, the Austin Bar Foundation created a scholarship fund named after Denise Hyde, an adoption advocate and longtime chair of the Austin Adoption Day Celebration.

Attorneys, caseworkers, judges, advocates, and many volunteers came together to make this day extra special for the children and families involved. The Austin Bar Association created a festive atmosphere complete with balloons, games, art projects, and characters from the Wizard of Oz. Children and families received books, stuffed animals, engraved jewelry, and gift baskets.

Each year, National Adoption Day honors children and families who are coming together through adoption and brings attention to the need for more foster and adoptive families. For more information about National Adoption Day, visit the State Bar of Texas website.