New HBA president will focus on education, member benefits, pro bono

Laura Gibson, a partner in Ogden, Gibson, Broocks, Longoria & Hall, has assumed the role of president of the Houston Bar Association—the fifth-largest metropolitan bar association in the nation. She is only the fourth woman to hold the position in the association’s 145-year history.

“I am honored to serve, especially to follow in the footsteps of Lynne Liberato, Amy Dunn Taylor, and Denise Scofield,” Gibson said. “I pledge to work hard to meet the needs of our members, to inform all of the lawyers in our great city of the value proposition that HBA membership provides, and to lead the bar’s efforts to continue to serve our community.”

Gibson said she will focus her efforts on increasing membership benefits—including free CLE content and renovating the HBA’s mentorship program—and recruiting Houston Bar Fellows, which will increase funding for pro bono service. Another goal will be the development of teaching opportunities for attorneys. One initiative, called Teach Texas, will consist of a partnership with the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society to educate seventh-grade students about history and law.

Gibson is no stranger to leadership in the HBA. She has been a member of the association’s board of directors since 2006 and has chaired or served on numerous HBA sections and committees. Gibson is also a director for District 4 of the State Bar of Texas and, in 2013, received the Trailblazer Outside Counsel Award from the State Bar’s Texas Minority Counsel Program.


Animal Well-Fair educates citizens and attorneys alike

The Austin Bar Association’s Animal Law Section wants the public to know how to support animal welfare organizations throughout Central Texas. So, tomorrow, June 9, the section is holding its third annual Animal Well-Fair to serve as an information clearinghouse for concerned citizens. The event takes place at noon at the Northwest Recreation Center (2913 Northland Drive).

Approximately a dozen animal organizations—such as Austin Pets Alive!, Austin Wildlife Rescue, and the Texas Humane Legislation Network—have been invited to educate attendees on what their groups do and how the public can help them in achieving their missions. Representatives will then be available to answer questions and have conversations about becoming involved as a volunteer, foster, or donor. Animals will be available for adoption outside the building.

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LGBT bar association launches in San Antonio

The San Antonio LGBT Bar Association will hold its inaugural meeting with speakers, networking, and refreshments on Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Radius Center at 106 Auditorium Cir. The newly created group was established to promote education on issues relating to LGBT law; study and report on laws, decisions, and governmental regulations as they might affect the rights and responsibilities of LGBT persons; provide a common forum; raise the profile and acceptance of LGBT people in the legal community; and serve as examples for professionalism. Similar organizations are currently in place in Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

“There is an incredible need to offer CLE education in the many legal issues and client needs of LGBT persons in Texas,” said Gary Schumann, head of the membership committee of the State Bar of Texas LGBT Law Section. “It is a very exciting time to be involved with this type of organization.”

Schumann, who also helped found the Austin LGBT Bar Association in 2010, says there has already been a tremendous response to the San Antonio group. Membership in the new organization is open to anyone interested in LGBT legal issues in order to better represent LGBT clients.

Saturday’s event will begin at 5:30 and interested attendees should RSVP to For more information, to go or email Arabia Varhas at


44 kids find new families on Austin Adoption Day

There are more than 6,500 youth in Texas waiting to be adopted. On Nov. 6, 2014, 44 children—with ages ranging from one to 17 years—were welcomed into “forever families” during Austin Adoption Day at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center.

To celebrate the occasion, attendees were treated to a day of games, giveaways, and performances by entertainers. In addition to books, toys, and commemorative pieces, including ID jewelry engraved with the child’s new name and the date of the adoption, each family received a complimentary wills package from the Law Office of Fred A. Helms in Austin.

Adoption Day, now in its 13th year, is spearheaded by the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Bar Foundation in partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, CASA of Travis County, Partnerships for Children, Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center, the Travis County Office of Child Representation, and the Travis County Children’s Protective Services Board. Community partners, including Jim Kruger and Cook Walden Funeral Home, also contributed to the event.


Dallas Hispanic Bar Association to hold its ninth annual event "Lighting the Path to the Legal Profession" fundraiser and award reception

The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) will hold its annual event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25. The event is aimed to be a fun-filled evening dedicated to honoring and celebrating diversity in the legal profession.

“Lighting the Path to the Legal Profession” is a signature event for the DHBA. It brings attorneys, judges, and students together for a celebration that highlights the organization’s collective efforts to support educational and diversity initiatives within the legal community.

In addition to raising funds toward its mission and diversity pipeline initiatives, each year the DHBA presents various prestigious awards to individuals that have contributed in “lighting the path to the legal profession” in the Hispanic community.

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Tom Keyser: The Living Years

The following article originally appeared in San Antonio Lawyer magazine and is reprinted with permission from San Antonio Lawyer and the San Antonio Bar Association.

By Steve Peirce

Tom Keyser stood on a chair in the gym of his rented townhouse, a rope tied around his neck. He once was a Catholic school kid from Cumberland, Maryland, who had shown such promise as a baseball player that he was drafted in 1967 by the Baltimore Orioles, and now he was a father of three who had lost his marriage and his home, and was about to lose his law license. All he had to do was take one small step and the pain would be over, but he lost his nerve. It was the Summer of 1990.

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Bar Leaders Conference on Texas Bar TV

The Bar Leaders Conference video playlist, which can be found on the State Bar's YouTube channel, Texas Bar TV, includes interviews with speakers and attendees of the conference which was held in Houston earlier this month.

The conference offers tools and resources that attendees can utilize to help them become effective bar leaders. The two-day training program also addresses common concerns for volunteer leaders.

Bar Leaders Wrap-up

The 2014 Bar Leaders Conference, held in Houston on August 1-2, was filled with speakers and presentations aiming to strengthen, inspire, and celebrate local bar associations—all while participants earned CLE credit.

Each day, attendees could choose from a diverse selection of panels, with topics ranging from Law Related Education and Access to Justice to mentoring and Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans. Also offered were roundtable discussions that encouraged participants to share their own experiences and ideas on successful—or struggling—local bar initiatives and suggestions for improving State Bar efforts to connect with and support local leaders.

The weekend ended with a western-themed party that featured casino games and more than 60 door prize baskets provided by delegates. Details on select panels are provided below.

General Session Luncheons

Kicking off the Bar Leaders Conference, Vicki Clark, owner of Building the Capacity of Organizations, took the stage during Friday’s general session luncheon to give the audience tips on how to strengthen and inspire a bar association to increase its impact. “The only way your association is going to grow is if the members change,” Clark said, touching on her presentation’s theme of making bars “mission driven and member focused.” Below: Vicki Clark delivers the Local Bar Leaders Conference keynote presentation on servant leadership.

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Houston Bar Association publishes updated Elder Law Handbook

The Houston Bar Association has completed the annual update of its 40-page Elder Law Handbook, which is now available at no charge to individuals and organizations.

The revised handbook features helpful information on numerous legal topics relevant to senior citizens and their families, including social security, Medicare and Medicaid, wills and probate, guardianship, burial provisions, banking, taxes, and homesteads. It also provides referrals to additional resources and phone numbers.

Electronic copies of the handbook—available in English, Spanish, and Chinese versions—can be downloaded for free via the HBA website at The HBA’s Family Law and Consumer Law handbooks also are available at the website.

Printed copies of the updated Elder Law Handbook are available at the Houston Bar Association’s office at 1111 Bagby Street, FLB Suite 200. Parties interested in receiving the handbook through the mail should call (713) 759-1133. Organizations seeking multiple copies can fax their request to the HBA at (713) 759-1710 or call (713) 759-1133.

Local bars offering free veterans legal clinic Saturday in Pearland

Veterans seeking legal advice or legal assistance can visit a free legal clinic on Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Pearland, southeast of Houston. The clinic is joint-sponsored by the Brazoria County Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative, a coalition of local bar associations spanning 17 Texas counties that provides pro bono legal services to thousands of veterans.

The clinic will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the VFW Post 7109 in Pearland, at 4202 W. Walnut St. Any U.S. veteran or a spouse of a deceased veteran is welcome to attend the clinic, and no appointment is necessary. Volunteer attorneys will be available to answer legal questions and provide counsel on matters concerning a variety of areas of law, including wills and probate, consumer, real estate, tax, and disability/veterans benefits. Some veterans in need of ongoing legal representation who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney to handle their case.

The Veterans Legal Initiative additionally holds a free legal clinic every Friday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the first floor of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

For more information on the June 28 Pearland clinic and other services for veterans, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at 713-759-1133 or visit

Crow begins Houston Bar Association presidency

M. Carter Crow assumed the office of president for the Houston Bar Association on May 15 during the group’s annual dinner meeting at River Oaks Country Club. Crow, partner-in-charge of the Houston office of Norton Rose Fulbright, succeeds David Chaumette to lead the nation’s fifth largest metropolitan bar association.

A member of the HBA Board of Directors since 2007, Crow has served as chair or co-chair of a number of the organization’s committees and programs, including Administration of Justice, Judicial Polls, Gender Fairness, Law Week, and Habitat for Humanity. He is past president of the Houston Management Lawyers Forum; served as a member of the Children’s Fund Inc.; and is an elder at Christ the King Presbyterian Church.

Crow earned his J.D., with honors, from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.


Upcoming Law Student Professionalism Program in Dallas

On May 29, 2014, the Dallas Bar Association will host its annual Law Student Professionalism Program to educate future attorneys on embodying the ideals of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and the Guidelines of Professional Courtesy.

“Both future and practicing lawyers face the same issue,” said Kathryne Morris, an associate at Strasburger and Price and co-vice chair of the DBA’s Morris Harrell Professionalism Committee that sponsors the program. “The public’s confidence in lawyers is diminishing as the result of the perception that unprofessional conduct and ‘Rambo’ tactics often win out over what’s right. As a result, the lack of professionalism is compromising the public’s esteem of the justice system itself.”

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Bastrop County Bar to present 1883 murder trial

In December 1883, Lee County’s deputy sheriff was killed in McDade in a shooting believed to have ignited the city’s infamous Christmas Eve lynchings.

A year after the shooting, a man was indicted for the murder, but questions about his guilt remained.

The Bastrop County Bar Association will revisit the case next month as part of “The State of Texas v. Jeff Fitzpatrick: An 1883 Murder Trial in Three Historically Accurate Acts.”

Members of the local bar association will serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges in the presentation, which is scheduled for May 3-4 at Bastrop Opera House, 711 Spring St., in Bastrop.


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Austin Bar to offer free veterans legal clinic April 14

Austin-area veterans can receive free legal advice through a clinic offered by the Austin Bar Association.

The association hosts a free legal advice clinic for veterans each month, and the next clinic is 1-4 p.m. April 14 at the new Austin VA Outpatient Clinic at 7901 Metropolis Drive.

Sign-in will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. No appointments or reservations are necessary.

Attorney volunteers will provide brief legal advice but will not offer services such as wills or divorce filings at the clinic. If participants need further legal assistance, the association will provide local legal resources.


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Dallas Bar Association to host mock voir dire for high school students

Dallas trial lawyers and judges will demonstrate how a jury is selected for nearly 400 area high school students April 11 as part of a Dallas Bar Association event.

The event, sponsored by the DBA Law Day Committee, shows the importance of selecting a fair and impartial jury using a panel of Dallas Independent School District high school students for a hypothetical civil or criminal trial. The students can ask questions of the lawyers and judges after the demonstration.

The event will also include a moderated panel discussion with Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, Dallas County Republican Party Chair Wade Emmert, Texas Sen. Royce West, Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis, and 68th Civil District Court Judge Martin Hoffman, who will moderate.

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High school students prepare for state mock trial championship in March

On March 7 and 8, teams from 24 Texas high schools will compete at the 35th Annual Texas High School Mock Trial Competition in Dallas. These teams have made it to the final championship after winning regional contests among approximately 60 high schools during January and February, and are vying for the opportunity to represent the state at the national tournament in Madison, Wis. in May.

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Free legal clinic for veterans set for Jan. 18 in Conroe

A free legal advice clinic for veterans will take place Saturday, Jan. 18 in Conroe, the Houston Bar Association announced Thursday.

The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic at 800 Riverwood Court, Suite 100. No appointment is necessary.

The clinic will provide an opportunity for any veteran or spouse of a deceased veteran to receive counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law—including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate, and tax law—as well as disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid will be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.


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Houston Bar Association's Law Day program earns national honor

The Houston Bar Association announced Tuesday it is one of three organizations the American Bar Association will honor for its 2013 Law Day activities.

The HBA will join the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the Law Day 2013 Dream Team, a partnership of 12 Georgia organizations, in receiving the Law Day 2013 Outstanding Activity Award, according to the ABA.

The ABA will present the awards Feb. 7 at its 2014 Midyear Meeting in Chicago.


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Santa Claus on trial, again

For the 20th-straight year, Santa Claus is facing “trial” as part of a community service project of the San Antonio Bar Association.

San Antonio police arrested Santa on Thursday as he was handing out gifts at James Bonham Academy. He is accused of violating a fictitious statute concerning the separation of church and state, said Ted Lee, a San Antonio attorney who helps organize the annual mock trial through the San Antonio Bar Association U.S. District Courts Committee.

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Crash course on jury duty for high school seniors

Many people dread jury duty, which is associated with detouring from our all-too-comfortable daily routines. High school seniors are no different, and with a multitude of enticing alternate options for how to spend their time, they likely are more susceptible to developing jury duty apathy.

On Nov. 7, a program of the Houston Bar Association will bring together 10 Harris County judges to teach Houston high school seniors about the importance of jury duty, as well as how juries are selected. Each judge works on humanizing the jury process for the students and dispelling common jury duty myths. The judge leads its class through mock questioning, treating the students as if they were potential jurors, and then selects a jury panel and discusses what made those students appropriate choices.

HBA created the Voir Dire Program in 2000 during a period of low juror turnout in Harris County. It seeks to increase the number of people who show up for jury duty in order to create a large, diverse jury pool for efficient administration of justice.

“Jury duty is not only a civic duty but a privilege,” said Judge Paula Goodhart of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 1. “And the less intimidating and more informative we can make it for young adults, the more likely they will respond when called to duty.”

Congratulations to the 2013 Law Day winners!

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) invited local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contest. This year’s Law Day theme was Realizing the Dream: Equality for All. Contest winners will be recognized on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at the Texas Law Center. The State Bar of Texas and TYLA will host the luncheon and present the awards to the winners. View this year's contest winners [PDF].

State Bar of Texas, ABA, Lone Star Legal Aid and Local Bar Associations Stand Ready to Assist Texans Impacted by the Disaster in West, Texas

The State Bar of Texas has established a disaster legal hotline – 800.504.7030 – to assist people with basic legal questions following the devastating plant explosion in West, Texas.

The hotline – answered in English and Spanish by Lone Star Legal Aid – is intended to help low-income persons affected by the disaster with such issues as replacing lost documents, insurance questions, landlord-tenant issues, and consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process. Residents can call and leave a message any time. People who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help. 

A partnership between the State Bar of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Lone Star Legal Aid, local bar associations, and other legal services providers throughout Texas is making a range of assistance available.

Additional resources are available at and

The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that solicitation of a potential legal case is a crime unless the lawyer has a family relationship with you or you have been a client of the lawyer in the past or are currently a client. Solicitation of you is also a crime if perpetrated by a non-lawyer employee or representative of the lawyer, unless the previous conditions exist. Please report any prohibited contacts by lawyers or their representatives, whether in person, telephone or otherwise, to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas at 877.953.5535.

Attorneys who want to volunteer to help may visit our Disaster Relief and Attorney Resources page.

Texarkana Young Lawyers Association presents mock trial to local area high school students

Members of the Mock Trial Team in front of the federal courthouse
in Texarkana.

On March 4, 2013, a crowd of spectators had the opportunity to watch mock trial proceedings of a civil suit at the federal courthouse. The mock trial was performed by Baylor Law School's American Association for Justice Mock Trial Team.

Local lawyers, high school teachers and an administrator, members of the community, courthouse staff, and 60 high school students were in attendance. The students represented Pleasant Grove High School, Texas High School, Liberty-Eylau High School, and Arkansas High School.

The presiding judge was Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant. A panel of judges and lawyers was at hand to deliver feedback: Chief Justice Josh Morriss, Justice Jack Carter, Justice Bailey Moseley, Judge Donald Dowd, Troy Hornsby, and Jason Horton. The day before the mock trial, the team had the opportunity to perform a practice session before Judge Ralph Burgess.

Texarkana attorney Justin B. Smith, who was in attendance, said the event was very successful. "The courtroom was packed with high school students, the Baylor team performed exceedingly well, and the panel of judges and lawyers gave great feedback."

Smith encourages other local affiliates to coordinate similar presentations. "High school students can get a lot out of it, and it puts the legal profession and young lawyers in a great light."

Houston Bar Association volunteers help plant 1,100 trees

Members of the Houston Bar Association (HBA) and their families helped plant 1,100 trees at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. The event was a Houston Bar Association’s Lawyers Against Waste Committee project, and was part of the Houston Arboretum’s Arbor Day Celebration. HBA President, Brent Benoit (pictured below), had the idea for the project.

More than 300 HBA volunteers were on hand to help plant the trees, which were purchased from Doremus Native Plants through HBA member donations.

HBA President Brent Benoit

2013 Law Day contests

The State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) invite local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contests. Local bar associations, courts, schools, youth groups, and community organizations are encouraged to hold Law Day programs to help people understand how law keeps us free and how our legal system strives to achieve justice. The deadline for all submissions is Monday, April 1, 2013. Get the full details.

San Antonio Bar Association community service project - the trial of Santa Claus

Don’t Miss the Arrest of Santa Claus at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 At James Bonham Academy!

Santa Claus will be arrested at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at James Bonham Academy, 925 South St. Mary’s St. Santa Claus, who will be giving out Christmas presents, will be charged with violation of a statute concerning separation of Church and State.

Santa Claus will be arrested for violation of this statute and led away in handcuffs by members of the San Antonio Police Department. Repeatedly Santa Claus has appeared at local schools giving gifts in violation of this statute. This is the nineteenth year in a row that Santa has been arrested for violation of the statute. Each time in the past, Santa Claus has beaten the charge, due to skillful representation of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that make up his defense team. It helps that the jury was composed of fourth graders from James Bonham Academy.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., Santa Claus (a/k/a Kris Kringle) will be tried in the Federal Courthouse in front of the Honorable Judge Edward C. Prado for violation of this statute. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will make up both the prosecution and the defense teams. The jury will be selected from fourth graders from James Bonham Academy. This is different version of “Miracle on 34th Street” with an unusual twist.

If Santa Claus is found to be competent (this Santa Claus actually believes reindeer can fly), Santa clearly violated the statute and will probably be convicted. Santa may spend this Christmas in jail!

If Santa Claus is acquitted and is found competent, then a Christmas party will occur at the Federal Training Center across the patio in front of the John H. Wood Jr. Courthouse.

The Trial of Santa Claus is a community services project of the United States District Court Committee, San Antonio Bar Association, in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 285, Girl Scout Troops 887 and 705 and James Bonham Academy.

San Antonio Bar Association
Contact: Ted Lee at 210-886-9500

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

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.

Houston Veterans Court on 60 Minutes

CBS 60 Minutes will be airing a piece on the Harris County Veterans Court on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. CDT (or after the football game). The Veterans Court highlights one of the many innovations that Harris County is taking in reducing crime, making the county safer, and reducing jail population.

Lighting the Path to the Legal Profession

We invite you to join the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, at the Belo Mansion located at 2101 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75201.

The Annual Event - “Lighting the Path to the Legal Profession” has become a signature event for the DHBA that joins attorneys, judges, and students in an annual celebration that highlights our collective efforts to support educational and diversity initiatives within the legal community. Through this event, DHBA gives all members of the community an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to supporting students and increasing diversity within the Dallas legal community. 

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Equal Access to Justice Campaign

Mark your calendar for September 13, 7 a.m. to midnight! The Dallas Volunteer Attorney (DVAP) program will participate in “Get Up and Give!  North Texas Giving Day.” Every donation of at least $25 made to DVAP on September 13 through will receive a portion of $1 million in matching funds. Contact Alicia Hernandez for more information.

El Paso Lawyers for Patriots honored with outreach award

In August, El Paso Lawyers for Patriots will be honored as a recipient of the 2012 NABE/LexisNexis Community & Educational Outreach Award at the ABA/NABE Annual Meeting in Chicago for the third time. The award honors state and local bar associations and bar foundations for outstanding projects that made a substantial commitment of time and effort to public service and law-related education programs. Read full story

Watch a video of the El Paso Lawyers for Patriots Free Legal Clinic Spring 2012, held at the Ambrosio Guillen Texas State Veterans Home.

Congratulations to the 2012 Law Day winners!

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) invited local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contest. This year’s Law Day theme is No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom. Contest winners will be recognized on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at the Texas Law Center. The State Bar of Texas and TYLA will host the luncheon and present the awards to the winners. Click here for the list of winners [PDF].

Houston Bar Association's law week fun run

The Houston Bar Association's 27th Annual John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run will be held on Saturday, March 24. The event benefits THE CENTER which is a private non-profit corporation United Way agency. It is dedicated to offering people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to reach their full potential and to contribute to their community.

The event features an 8K run, a one-mile non-competitive children's run, a non-competitive one-mile family walk, and a wheelchair division in the 8K. Please visit for more information.

Austin Bar/Austin YLA Kick Off Leadership Academy

The first Austin Bar Association/Austin Young Lawyers Association Leadership Academy kicked off Friday with a daylong retreat held at the Texas Law Center. The 35 members of the leadership academy visited with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson as well as Texas Sen. Kirk Watson, pictured. "After planning the academy for almost a year, it was wonderful to see it come to fruition with such fantastic speakers and an incredibly impressive inaugural class," says Karin Crump, co-chair of the leadership academy. "I'm thrilled to be a part in what will be a great learning experience for the entire group."

The Leadership Academy is a six-month program designed to assist Austin-area lawyers in making a difference in the legal community and the greater Austin community. "By our very nature, lawyers are leaders," says leadership academy co-chair David Courreges. "We hope that the leaders that comprise this year's class will learn from each other and will work toward a common goal of bettering our community."

Friday's retreat will be followed by a series of six lunch meetings where participants will network with academy presenters, including leaders from federal, state, and local government. The class will culminate with the organization of an optional class project.

Rubin Named Executive Director of HBA's Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program

The Houston Bar Association welcomes Alissa Rubin as the new executive director of its Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program (HVLP). HVLP, founded in 1981, provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income Harris County residents, largely by placing their cases with volunteer lawyers throughout the Houston area. The program serves more than 20,000 men, women, and children each year, including families living with HIV/AIDS, veterans, and victims of natural disasters.

Rubin graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2002 among the top 16 in her class, and that year began working as a litigation associate in the Houston office of international law firm King & Spalding LLP. Rubin was elected partner of the firm last year. Throughout her tenure, Rubin handled complex commercial lawsuits from inception through trial, with special expertise obtaining and defending temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions.

Rubin was also dedicated to pro bono work while in private practice, volunteering with HVLP and Catholic Charities to help those in need. King & Spalding awarded her a pro bono service award in 2006, 2007, and 2008 for her successful representation of an immigrant juvenile in deportation proceedings and other pro bono matters. Rubin says her move to HVLP is an extension of her dedication to providing legal services to persons in need.

Attorney volunteers needed for central Texas wildfire response

The Austin Bar Association in partnership with the Bastrop County Bar Association is scheduling attorney volunteers for the free legal clinic in the FEMA Disaster Relief Center, 1602 Hill St., Bastrop High School 9th Grade Center. If you wish to help, email your full name, cell phone number, and when you can volunteer to Michelle Fox at

Available attorney volunteers slots:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 12., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 13., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 14., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 15., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 17., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 21., 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 21., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Texas wildfire disaster relief

The Houston Bar Association and the Houston Young Lawyers Association are responding to the needs of our neighbors, and we are offering our members several ways to get involved in disaster relief.

• Donations may be made to wildfire relief efforts of the American Red Cross through the Houston Bar Foundation. Make checks payable to the Houston Bar Foundation and write Texas Wildfire Relief on the information line. Send your check to the Foundation at 1001 Fannin Street, Suite 1300, Houston, TX 77002.

• The HBA's Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program has set up a disaster hotline and an email where those affected by the fires can email questions to or call 713-225-9455 and leave a message, which will then be answered by a staff attorney or volunteer. The HBA is evaluating other legal needs that displaced persons may have in the future to determine services.

• The Austin Bar Association is recruiting volunteer attorneys to staff legal clinics in two locations in Bastrop and is providing additional services for those affected by the fires in Central Texas. For more information, visit

Austin Bar Association's wildfire response seminar

The Austin Bar Association's wildfire response seminar for volunteer lawyers is now featured on Video segments are free to view or download.

Seminar segments include:

An Introduction to the Central Texas Wildfire Response Team 
Background Information on the Austin Bar’s Response to the Wildfire Disaster 
Ethics & Pro Bono Service 
FEMA & Public Benefits 
Home Ownership Issues (title/mortgage, tax & fencing, barn, pens) 
Insurance and Consumer Law Issues 
Landlord/Tenant Concerns  
Pet and Animal Welfare Law 

Bell County Bar Association collecting items and donations for victims of the Bastrop County fire

The Bell County Bar Association will be collecting items next week, specifically at the Bench Bar Conference on Sept. 22. The items will be delivered to victims of the Bastrop County fire. Please limit your donations to these specific items: gift cards for grocery stores (HEB, Walmart, Target), new socks and undergarments (all sizes), toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, body soap, shampoo, disposable razors), baby clothing, blankets, diapers, gently used small toys, school supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks) talcum powder, anti bacterial hand gel, eyedrops, chapstick, and sunscreen.

During the week of Sept. 19 - Sept. 23 boxes will be set up at the Justice Complex located at 1201 Huey Road, Belton. Cash donations are always accepted, please make checks payable to BCBA.

Volunteers are still needed to assist at onsite legal clinics in Bastrop. Free legal advice will be provided to those affected by the fires. For more information on the clinics, please contact Lisa Richardson (

Austin Bar expands free legal advice clinics for wildfire evacuees

From the Austin Bar Association:

Austin, TX – The Austin Bar Association, in partnership with the Bastrop County Bar Association, has expanded the free legal clinics for wildfire evacuees to six shelters in Bastrop County.

Attorneys will be available in Bastrop at the following locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sept. 8 through Saturday, Sept. 10 (and possibly into next week depending on need):

  • Bastrop Christian Outreach, 1096 Hwy 71 W.
  • Ascension Catholic Church, 802 Pine St. (Water St. & Pine St.)
  • Celebration Christian Church, 107 Longhorn St.
  • First Assembly of God, 609 Pecan St.
  • Premerica Baptist Church, 308 Paul C Bell
  • Sears Hometown Store, 735 Old Austin Hwy, Ste. B

In addition, two hotlines have been set up for legal questions for those that cannot return to the area:

  • State Bar of Texas: 1-800-504-7030
  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: 1-866-757-1570

Attorneys who want to volunteer, should contact Michelle Fox at

Volunteers sought for wildfire legal response

The Austin Bar Disaster Response Team is looking for more volunteers this week to serve at its Austin Bar Legal Clinic at two locations in Bastrop. Please visit this website to sign up and help. The Austin Bar needs need attorneys, legal assistants, legal administrators, receptionists, legal secretaries, and couriers (with cars).

The Austin Bar also seeks donations of necessities for evacuees.

Lawyers rockin' for pro bono!

Law Jam 3 is a benefit concert for pro bono legal aid. The concernt is a joint program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas that benefits the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP).

This event will be held on August 20, 2011 at the Granada Theater in Dallas. Doors will open at 5:30pm with the event beginning at 6pm. Seven bands will be performing: Big Wheel, The Usuals, Black Dirt Tango, The Catdaddies, Blue Collar Crime, The Wrecking Crew, and Texas Rock Association. All of the bands are comprised of Dallas-area lawyers and judges Click here for ticket information.

The mission of DVAP is to increase and enhance pro bono legal services to the poor in Dallas through the recruitment, training, and support of volunteer attorneys.

Lawyers and judges hit the stage to raise scholarship funds

Hear entertaining anecdotes, parodies and more at Bar None—the annual variety show sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association and Dallas Bar Foundation. Each year, members of the Dallas legal community assemble to perform hilarious songs and original skits about current events, politics, the legal profession—and anything else worth spoofing or lampooning. And the talent is brilliant!

The cast of more than 50 attorneys and judges endure weeks of rehearsals—and jabs from their colleagues—preparing for the four-day variety show, which benefits the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarships at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. The scholarship program provides a full three-year law school education to outstanding minority students who plan to make Dallas their home after graduation.  

Since Bar None began in 1985, the performers have raised more than $1,366,000 for the scholarship program, funding the education of 46 law students (some of whom went on to become judges). This year’s show will run June 15, 16, 17 and 18 at the Greer Garson Theatre on the SMU Campus. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Ticket prices are $25 for all shows, when purchased in advance (or $30 at the door).

For more information, visit , or contact DBF Executive Director Elizabeth Philipp at (214) 220-7487.

Stars of Texas Bars and Judge Sam Williams contests

Local bar associations are invited to participate in the Stars of Texas Bars and the Judge Sam Williams contest. This year’s entries must be received by the State Bar of Texas, Local Bar Services department by Wednesday, May 4, at 5:00 p.m. For questions please email

Get the details:
Stars of Texas Bars [pdf]
Judge Sam Williams [pdf]

Houston Bar Association's John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run Set for March 26

Fun Run logoThe Houston Bar Association's 26th Annual John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run will be held on Saturday, March 26 at Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby, Downtown Houston. The first race starts at 7:30 a.m.

All entry fee proceeds will be contributed directly to THE CENTER, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to reach their full potential and to contribute to their community through education, job training, socialization, community living, and health care.

Since 1986, the Houston Bar Association has raised over  $886,000 for THE CENTER.

The event features an 8K run, a one-mile non-competitive children's run, a non-competitive one-mile family walk, and a wheelchair division in the 8K. The 8K race is an official spring series race of the Houston Area Road Runners Association, and is a sanctioned U.S.A. Track and Field event.

Visit the Fun Run website to register and learn more about special events planned for this exciting race!

Law Day: the legacy of John Adams, from Boston to Guantanamo

The State Bar of Texas is asking local bar associations around Texas to encourage students in their communities to participate in the 2011 Law Day program. Students in grades K-12 are asked to “explore how lawyers in the past and present have promoted justice by defending unpopular clients.”

The State Bar of Texas will celebrate Law Day on Monday, May 9, at the Texas Law Center in Austin. The deadline for all submissions is Friday, April 1, 2011. Get the full details and an entry form [PDF]


TYLA, Dallas Bar and El Paso Bar take 3 of 4 national LexisNexis Community Outreach Awards

The National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) today announced that it will recognize four recipients of the 2010 LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Awards at the ABA annual meeting Aug. 6 in San Francisco. Honorees include the following Texas programs:

  • The Texas Young Lawyers Association's "R U Safe? Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace," a four-part DVD that educates children and their parents about dangers on the Internet and provides tools for online safety.
  • A collaborative effort of the Dallas Bar Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters - the Amachi Texas Program - that recruits lawyers, judges and other legal professionals to mentor the children of prison inmates.
  • The El Paso Bar Association's Access to Justice Legal Fair, a collaborative effort to assist those who cannot afford legal representation. Nearly 400 people received free legal assistance during the six-hour event.

The community and educational outreach awards honor bar associations and bar foundations for commitment to public service. Also being honored is the Indiana State Bar Association.

Congratulations to all involved in serving the people of Texas through these exceptional service projects and making Texas lawyers proud!

2010 Bar Leaders Conference

The State Bar of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association, and the Texas Access to Justice Commission invite you to the 2010 Bar Leaders Conference at the Westin Galleria in Houston, July 23-34.

Join other local bar leaders for a two-day training program that addresses common concerns for volunteer leaders. In addition, meet the State Bar of Texas and TYLA elected leaders as you learn about resources provided by the State Bar. Walk away from the conference with knowledge on how to improve your local bar and your law practice!

The registration deadline is July 7, 2010. Click here for the Bar Leaders Conference Brochure.

Local bar association to treat Federal Circuit judge to East Texas hospitality

Today's issue of The Recorder, an ALM publication in California, includes an article about the Eastern District of Texas ("Big Tech Shouts 'Yipee!,' Patent Bar Chattering as Rader Heads to Texas"). 

To help prepare for his imminent elevation to chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Judge Randall Rader will preside over five cases in Texas' Eastern District in April. While the article devotes much of its space to describing the tension between the Eastern District and the Federal Circuit and the stir Rader's early rulings have provoked, it concludes with as fine a representation of East Texas hospitality as you're likely to find. Members of the Eastern District of Texas Bar Association are continuing a tradition from before the days when the Court had a resident judge by preparing a dinner in honor of Rader at a small, lakeside lodge. According to Michael C. Smith, a partner in the Marshall office of Siebman, Burg, Phillips & Smith, L.L.P. who maintains a blog about the Eastern District, the menu will include "fried chicken, catfish, slaw, vegetables, pancakes, and cobbler."

In 2006, Smith wrote an article for the Texas Bar Journal about the Marshall Court's patent docket ("Rocket Docket: Marshall Court Leads Nation in Hearing Patent Cases"). The article is worth linking to if only for the photo that manages to capture in a single frame a successful patent application, the courthouse, the U.S. flag, and a pick-up truck. East Texas hospitality, indeed.


2010 Law Day student contests

Do you know a budding writer, artist, or photographer? The State Bar, along with the Texas Young Lawyers Association, is inviting students grade K-12 to show off their skills by entering the 2010 Law Day editorial, photography, and poster contests. 

The theme of this year's Law Day is "Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges." Judges are looking for essays, photographs, and posters that creatively describe or depict how the modern world is changing the way we practice law. All entries should be submitted to your local bar association or young lawyer affiliate. Winners may receive up to $1000 in prizes, plus an invitation to the State Bar of Texas Law Day Luncheon on Friday, April 30th. The deadline for all contests is April 1st.

More information on the contests is available here. To contact your local bar association, check out the State Bar's Local Bar Services.

San Antonio lawyer, law student honored at luncheon

State Bar of Texas President Roland Johnson and President-elect Terry Tottenham visited the San Antonio Bar Association (SABA) luncheon today. SABA lawyers are actively involved in mentoring young lawyers, providing legal services to the poor, and helping local military personnel.

In addition to a CLE presentation by United States Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado, two special awards were given during today's luncheon.

Every year, the San Antonio Bar President recognizes one bar member who has gone above and beyond in service to the bar with the President's Award. This year's recipient is Carl Werner. Werner used his expertise on probate, wills, and estates to incorporate a wills clinic into the bar's Community Justice Program. His energy extended to recruiting and mentoring volunteers to the extent that in 2011, a wills clinic will be offered monthly.

For the first time, AT&T presented the First Annual AT&T Excellence in Pro Bono Award. AT&T has played an instrumental role in supporting the pro bono efforts in San Antonio. As the Community Justice Program continues to grow and the number of volunteers increases, the administrative workload becomes mountainous. The new award established AT&T will offer a St. Mary's law student a scholarship in return for working five hours a week for the Community Justice Program.

The first recipient of the AT&T Excellence in Pro Bono Award is Kimbell Ward. Ward, a 2L law student, was chosen because of her high class ranking, a highly complimentary letter from a mentor, and her passionate essay about the importance of pro bono efforts. In addition to her volunteer efforts at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Catholic Charities Call-a-Lawyer, Ward has served as president of the St. Mary's Criminal Defense Law Bar. It would be remiss not to mention that Ward is also a mother of two. Texas lawyers can expect great work from future lawyer Kimbell Ward.

Fort Bend County lawyers golf for a great cause

The Fort Bend County Bar Association’s 31st Annual Golf Tournament proved to be a huge success! The bar association raised more than $10,000 which exceeded the goal and allowed the association to make more donations than expected.   Fort Bend Lawyers Care received $5,000 to enhance free legal services to the indigent. Richmond Rosenberg Helping Hands received $5,000. Helping Hands provides food, clothing, shelter and assistance to families in financial crisis. 

No place like home: Bell County Bar and National Adoption Day

The Bell County Bar Association is preparing for their second annual National Adoption Day. This year's theme is "The Wizard of Oz, There's No Place Like Home." A yellow brick road will lead the way to the bench as 32 children will be adopted by 20 families on November 16.

"The purpose of this day is to make it the most special day of their life," Judge Rick Morris (pictured), President of the Bell County Bar said.

Adopted children will receive special gifts to signify their adoptions - engraved necklaces for girls and engraved dog tags for boys. Teddy bears, books, and donated bags of necessities from hospitals will also be presented to the new families. A photographer will take pictures of the new families and each family will receive an 8x10 framed photo of the special day.

Fifteen attorneys, four judges and 20 paralegals have volunteered their time for adoptions and to write wills.

"National Adoption Day is so fun, I should have to pay to take part!" Morris said, "There will not be a dry eye in the room."

In the Winner's Circle!

The Tarrant County Bar Association hosted its fundraising event, “The Tarrant County Derby,” at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie in May and came up with a big winner! Getting into the Kentucky Derby spirit, some of the 150 attendees — both ladies and gents — participated in a Parade of Hats contest in between enjoying, and hopefully winning on, the races and dancing to music from Johnny D and the Doo Wopps. The ladies’ hat contest winner was Jessica Graham and the men’s winner was Cary Schroeder. “We had a great time,” said Planning Committee Chair Lori Spearman (pictured fourth from left), who credited committee members Lindsay DeVos, Shannon Sears, Tracy Wilkinson, Lydia Dews, Karmen Johnson, Nancy Gordon, and Casey Dyer for putting together such a successful and fun event. Koons, Fuller, Vanden Eykel & Robertson co-sponsored the event.