Judge Eric Shepperd starts term as Austin Bar Association president

Judge Eric M. Shepperd began his term as president of the Austin Bar Association today. During his one-year tenure, he will focus on raising the public’s awareness of legal services and highlighting the ways in which Austin’s legal community works to provide services to those in need.

Before serving in his current position as judge of Travis County Court at Law No. 2, Shepperd was the director of civil litigation for the Travis County Attorney’s Office and assistant attorney general for the Law Enforcement Defense Division.

Shepperd is active in service to the legal profession and the Austin community. He is a lecturer for the University of Texas Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program, a board member of the Texas Center for the Judiciary, and a board member and past chair of Leadership Austin, among other activities. Shepperd holds a B.A. in business from Andrews University and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

Joining Judge Shepperd as Austin Bar officers for the upcoming bar year are Leslie Dippel, president-elect; Amy Welborn, secretary; Adam Schramek, treasurer; and Judge Elisabeth Earle, immediate past-president. The Austin Bar board of directors includes David Courreges, Jessica Mangrum, Cindy Saiter, D. Todd Smith, Amanda Arriaga, Laurie Merritt, Amanda Taylor, and Kennon Wooten.

New leadership for the Austin Young Lawyers Association includes Chari Kelly, who began her term as president today; Katie Fillmore, president-elect; Jorge Padilla, secretary; Austin Kaplan, treasurer; and Amanda Arriaga, immediate past-president. The AYLA board of directors includes Hayden Briggle, Drew Harris, Whitney Mack, Nadia Ramkissoon, Sandy Bayne, David King, Jessica Palvino, and Andrea Rose.
 

 

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.

“We are often asked by our colleagues or by members of the public how they can help animals—which group should they work with and how can they make the biggest impact for our community’s neediest animals,” said Kelley Dwyer, chair of the ABA’s Animal Law Section. She noted that the well-fair enables attendees to visit with many groups under one roof.

The recent flooding in the Central Texas and Hill Country regions has made the work that these organizations do even more important, and the Austin Bar’s Animal Law Section will be collecting pet supply donations to help them during this time of increased need. Dwyer said that some of the organizations are so overwhelmed with the influx of displaced animals that they will not be able to attend the event as originally planned. “This time of year is routinely the busiest time for animal shelters, between owner surrenders and kitten season, and the floods have made things even more challenging,” she said. “The community's outpouring of concern and help for our animal welfare organizations has been amazing thus far, but more help is needed.”

While the Animal Well-Fair is geared toward informing the general public—attorneys and non-attorneys alike—Dwyer said that lawyers stand to gain much from attending the event and becoming more involved. “The animal welfare organizations are the ‘boots on the ground’ for animal welfare,” she said. “They unfortunately witness cruelty and neglect firsthand and are able to offer valuable information to lawmakers and policymakers about potential changes or improvements in existing laws or policies. Attorneys can be especially valuable in helping animal welfare organizations avoid liability and keep their nonprofit organizations compliant with relevant laws. And our legal education makes us especially helpful in advising citizens about the ways they can help animal welfare organizations make our world a more humane place for our animal companions.”

Groups offer free legal clinics for Central Texas flood victims

The Austin and Hays County bar associations, in partnership with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), are providing free legal clinics for victims of the Memorial Day floods, addressing issues such as denials of insurance claims, problems with a landlord or mortgage company, price gouging, and replacing important legal documents.

The free clinics are offered from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at St. John’s Catholic Church, 624 E. Hopkins, San Marcos, TX 78666. Attorneys and paralegals will be on hand to answer questions.

Flood victims can also call TRLA’s Disaster Assistance Hotline at (866) 757-1570 for answers to basic legal questions and to be connected to local legal aid providers.

Texans who were affected by the disaster can also call the State Bar of Texas legal hotline, available in both English and Spanish, at (800) 504-7030. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help. For more information regarding the State Bar’s flood relief resources, click here.

Other resources available for flood victims can be found at texaslawhelp.org, trla.org/centexfloods, and irs.gov.

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.

 

Austin Bar Association wins Luminary Award

The Austin Bar Association took home a Luminary Award for Excellence in Electronic Publications for its e-newsletter Bar Code at the National Association for Bar Executives Communications Section Workshop, held last week in Indianapolis.

“My favorite part of the Luminary Awards is that the entries are judged by our peers—other bar communicators who understand the benefits as well as the challenges of communicating within a bar association,” said Kat Hinson, communications director for the Austin Bar. “It’s a huge compliment when other communications professionals think your work is outstanding.”

 

 

Created about a decade ago, Bar Code underwent a redesign in January 2014 to introduce a refreshed design featuring more photos and logos. It was this new look and vision that earned the publication its first Luminary Award. Bar Code provides a listing of about 10 to 12 volunteer opportunities, section-sponsored CLEs, and local law-related news and court announcements. Because it is sent weekly, readers have more timely access to information and news and are better able to schedule for these occasions that can assist with professional development and networking.

“We prioritize events or volunteer opportunities hosted by the Austin Bar, the Austin Young Lawyers Association, and other law-related organizations,” said Hinson. “We only include items for the two weeks prior to the event so that content stays fresh. We’ve had great feedback from members. They like that it’s more engaging and that, visually, it’s much more interesting.”

Austin Bar to offer free veterans legal clinic June 9

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 1:30 to 4 p.m. June 9 at the new Austin VA Outpatient Clinic at 7901 Metropolis Drive.

Sign-in will take place from 1:30 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.

 

Participants are asked to bring any paperwork relevant to their case, including copies of all pertinent claims, correspondence, and rulings from the court, agency, or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Those seeking veterans benefits or a discharge upgrade should bring a copy of their DD Form 214 and any evidence related to their claim.

For more information, contact the Austin Bar Association at 512-472-0279
 or visit the association online.

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.

 

Participants are asked to bring any paperwork relevant to their case, including copies of all pertinent claims, correspondence, and rulings from the court, agency, or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Those seeking veterans benefits or a discharge upgrade should bring a copy of their DD Form 214 and any evidence related to their claim.

For more information, contact the Austin Bar Association at 512-472-0279
 or visit the association online.

 

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.

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.

Austin Bar Wildfire Response Team offers attorney volunteer training

The Austin Bar Association is offering a free CLE training for attorney volunteers responding to legal questions and providing assistance to all those affected by the wildfires. The training will be Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Austin Bar Association, 816 Congress Ave., Suite 700, Austin.

The cost is free to Austin Bar Association and Austin Young Lawyers Association members. The CLE credit for this training is 2.0 hours MCLE ethics credit.

This training will cover:

  •  Ethics & Pro Bono Service
  •  FEMA & Public Benefits
  •  Home Ownership Issues (title/mortgage, tax & fencing, barn, pens)
  •  Landlord-Tenant Concerns
  •  Insurance and Consumer Law Issues
  •  Pet and Animal Welfare Law

Read the full agenda.

Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas is providing malpractice coverage to lawyers volunteering through the Austin Bar.

To RSVP for this training, please contact Marissa Lara-Arebalo at 512-472-0279, x100 or at Marissa@austinbar.org.

Thank you to all the volunteer attorneys and donors for your support in helping evacuees affected by the Bastrop wildfires.

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 michelle@austinbar.org.

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.