Random Profile: John Schneider, 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?

Best thing about being a lawyer: The thing I like about being a lawyer, especially a patent attorney, is the intellectual challenge in finding ways to help your clients achieve their goals.

The part of my job I do best is: I get satisfaction out of helping solo inventors and small companies obtain value for their inventions.

When you are not practicing law, what do you like to do? In addition to my hobbies, I enjoy helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, hence my involvement with the Arc and Special Olympics.

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Texas Access to Justice Foundation Announces Grants for Veterans' Legal Services

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has announced grants to 11 nonprofit organizations, totaling more than $426,000, which will help fund legal aid for low-income Texas veterans. With these grants, public interest and pro bono lawyers will be able to provide legal representation to Texas veterans with basic civil legal problems such as denial of benefits or disability, family law matters arising from deployment, and other issues that may arise due to a veteran’s absence from home during military service.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission—through its Champions of Justice Gala—raised more than $340,000 in 2013 from law firms and corporate sponsors. Now in its fourth year, the Champions of Justice Gala has raised more than $1.4 million for veterans’ legal services since its inception. Along with funding from the Gala and additional support from the TAJF, the Military Law Section of the State Bar of Texas also donated funds to support the grants to the selected nonprofit organizations.

The nonprofits receiving grant awards include:

  • Baylor University School of Law, Waco
  • Cathedral Justice Project, Houston
  • Community Justice Program, San Antonio
  • Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Richmond
  • Houston Bar Foundation, Houston
  • Jefferson County Bar Foundation, Beaumont
  • Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Fort Worth (also includes North Texas, Panhandle)
  • Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston (includes East Texas)
  • Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido Inc., Austin, South Texas
  • Tarrant County Bar Foundation, Fort Worth
  • Texas Legal Services Center, Austin (statewide)

"These legal aid programs will provide civil legal services for those who have served our country and deserve our attention,” Richard L. Tate, chair of the board of directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said.

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Supreme Court Amends Order Requiring E-Filing

On June 24, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an amended order requiring electronic filing by attorneys in the appellate courts, district courts, statutory county courts, constitutional county courts and statutory probate courts. The amended order clarifies that juvenile cases are not subject to the statewide mandate at the district court, statutory county court, and constitutional county court. Juvenile cases on appeal at the appellate courts are still subject to the statewide mandate.

To read the full order, visit http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/miscdocket/13/13909200.pdf.


Texas educators selected for Teachers' Law School

Nearly 30 Texas educators have been selected to attend the Fifth Annual Teachers’ Law School, a three-day legal education program July 18-20 at the Texas Law Center in Austin.

Social studies and government teachers from across Texas applied to the program, which brings together more than a dozen of the state’s leading judges and lawyers who give presentations on aspects of civil and criminal legal systems at the state and federal levels.

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Access to Justice Commission Newsletter Out Now

Last month the Texas Access to Justice Commission added seven new members. Learn who they are and how they will be furthering civil legal aid in this issue of the TAJC Update.

You can also read about how the Commission is using technology to support legal aid providers, see the highlights from our inaugural Champions of Justice Reception, and find out how law students are using their spring break to help underserved communities across the state.

These stories and more are in the summer edition of the TAJC Update. Read the latest newsletter here.

Current, future civics teachers stage mock arguments at Texas Supreme Court

Current and future civics teachers from across the state got a chance to hold mock oral arguments Wednesday at the Texas Supreme Court.

About 30 teachers and education students from various Texas universities participated in the arguments as part of the Hatton W. Sumners Student Teacher Institute, part of the Institutes on the Founding Documents

In the past, the training program has included a visit with state Supreme Court justices, but this was the first year participants staged mock oral arguments, said Jan Miller, who directs the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department. The program is designed to inspire social studies and government teachers to use hands-on teaching methods, rather than just rely on textbooks, Miller said.

Supreme Court clerks organized the oral arguments section of the two-day program. The mock case involved a lawsuit over whether an eatery could open inside a shopping mall if another restaurant already held a contract as the mall’s exclusive sandwich shop.

“The project came from me watching students go through this room and have no idea what’s going on,” court clerk Andrew Wynans said, referring to the school classes and other groups that regularly tour the court.

Even many adults don’t understand that Texas has two high courts—the Supreme Court, which handles civil cases, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, which handles criminal cases, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson told the educators.

Jefferson said he agrees with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who cites a lack of civics education among the country’s biggest problems. 

“I think we should be doing everything we can to make sure our students know what America is really all about and how it works and how it came to be and what the deficiencies are as well,” Jefferson said. “And I think your interest in this subject matter will help educate them better than they would have been without this project.”

Pictured above: Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson addresses a group of about 30 current and future civics teachers from across the state Wednesday in Austin. Below: Educators participate in mock oral arguments organized by Texas Supreme Court clerks.


Random Profile: Thais Amaral Tellawi, Houston

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?

Favorite saying/quote: Make it a great day! So easy, yet so many of us forget we can do it!

When they do the film about you, what actress should portray you? People have told me I look like Sandra Bullock so I’d pick her. I think she’d play a great lawyer, don’t you?!

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The TBJ July Issue

Inside: To celebrate our 75th anniversary, we take you through the pages of the Texas Bar Journal by decade, from the ’40s and World War II and the ’70s and Watergate to the ’80s and AIDS and the 2000s and immigration. Plus: Tips on interviewing a witness, remarks by the February 2013 Bar Exam high scorer, ways Big Data can make your workload easier, and rocks that can transform lives. Go to the Texas Bar Journal to read the entire issue.