Dallas lawyer, TBJ board member wins legal writing award

Dallas attorney John G. Browning has received a 2014 Burton Award for Distinguished Achievement in Legal Writing, his law firm announced. 

Browning, a partner in Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, received the award for “Keep Your ‘Friends’ Close and Your Enemies Closer: Walking the Ethical Tightrope in the Use of Social Media,” published in the St. Mary’s Journal of Legal Malpractice & Ethics in 2013. The article was one of five law review pieces Browning published last year.

This is the fourth Burton Award for Browning, who is a member of the Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors.

“I’m pleased that the judging panel chose to recognize a cutting-edge topic like the ethical concerns lawyers must be mindful of when using newer technologies like social media,” he said. “And I’m just amazed and humbled at the thought of receiving this wonderful accolade for the fourth time.”


The Burton Awards, often called the “Pulitzer of the legal profession,” were created in 1999 to recognize excellence in legal writing. The award will be presented June 9 during a gala at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Browning is the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Social Networking and the syndicated newspaper column “Legally Speaking.” In his law practice, he handles commercial litigation, employment, health care, and personal injury defense matters in state and federal courts.

Travis County Women Lawyers' Association, Foundation to hold Grants and Awards Luncheon

The Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association and Foundation will host their annual Grants and Awards Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 22 at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The annual event is held to honor leading women lawyers in Travis County through the attorney awards and to distribute grants to local nonprofits that help solve legal issues affecting women, children, and families.

This year’s keynote speaker is Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, a Purple Heart honoree and a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the military’s policy of excluding women from many combat positions.

Tickets are $75. Attendees are asked to RSVP by April 15 online at www.tcwla.org or by mailing a check to TCWLF, P.O. Box 1386, Austin, Texas 78767.

2014 Attorney Award Recipients are:

• Outstanding Achievement – Brenda Strama
• Outstanding Firm – Hutcheson Bowers LLLP
• Advancement of Women’s Interests – Amie Rodnick
• Contribution to Minority Community – Elise Harriger and Sarah Woelk
• Criminal Justice – Kelsey McKay
• Government Service – Pamela Legate
• Litigation/Appellate – Sabrina Streusand
• Pro Bono – Barbara Ellis
• Public Interest – Andrea Marsh
• Corporate/Transactional – M’Lou Patton Bell

2014 Grant Recipients are:

• AIDS Services of Austin
• American Gateways
• The ARC of the Capital Area
• Asian Family Support Services of Austin
• CASA of Travis County
• Casa Marianella
• Center for Child Protection
• Disability Rights of Texas
• Family Eldercare
• Texas Fair Defense Project
• Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
• TRLA Foster Youth Justice Program


Houston Bar Foundation honors attorneys for pro bono, volunteer service, legal writing

The Houston Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association, recently announced its annual awards for pro bono service, volunteerism, and legal writing.

S. Jack Balagia Jr., the vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil Corp., was named the fifth recipient of the James B. Sales Pro Bono Leadership Award.

The foundation also named the recipients of awards for outstanding contributions to Houston Volunteer Lawyers, which provides pro bono legal services to low-income residents; for volunteer service to the Dispute Resolution Center, providing free alternatives to formal litigation; and for legal writing in the HBA’s professional journal.

The winners appear below, as provided by the HBA.

  • Fulbright & Jaworski LLP earned the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Houston Volunteer Lawyers by a large firm for the 14th consecutive year.
  • Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by an intermediate firm for the second consecutive year.
  • Baker Hostetler received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a midsize firm.
  • Beck | Redden LLP and Yetter Coleman LLP shared the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a small firm.
  • Coane and Associates, PLLC, and Jenkins & Kamin, LLP, shared the award for Outstanding Contribution to the HVL by a boutique firm.
  • Peter J. Bennett was honored for Outstanding Contribution to HVL by a solo practitioner for the second consecutive year.
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. was honored for Outstanding Contribution to HVL by a corporate law department.
  • Susan B. Sanchez of Exxon Mobil Corp. earned her second consecutive award as Outstanding Pro Bono Coordinator.
  • Jack Edwards and his firm, Ajamie LLP, along with John Spiller of Strasburger & Price, LLP, received special recognition from HVL for exceptional pro bono representation on a complex, time-consuming case that took more than five years to complete.
  • Attorney Robert G. Devlin was recognized for Outstanding Volunteer Service to the Dispute Resolution Center.
  • The Hon. Alvin L. Zimmerman was honored for Longevity of Exemplary Service to the Dispute Resolution Center.
  • The Hon. Dan Hinde, judge of the 269th District Court, was honored as the author of the outstanding legal article published in The Houston Lawyer, the HBA’s professional journal.

AWA Houston announces award and scholarship recipients to honor trailblazing women attorneys, judges, and law students

On March 11, the Association of Women Attorneys – Houston will hold its third annual Premier Women in Law Luncheon to honor modern legal trailblazers. AWA Houston has announced the recipients of its Premier Women in Law Awards: Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman; 14th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Kem Frost; Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson; Ruthie White, managing partner in Jackson Lewis; Lauren Waddell, founder of Waddell Law Firm; and Susan Sanchez, corporate counsel and pro bono coordinator to Exxon Mobil Corporation.

At the luncheon, the AWA Houston Foundation also will give six scholarships to second- and third-year women law students attending one of the city’s three law schools, the University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law, and the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Second-year students will receive $2,500 while third-year students will receive $3,500 to help pay for expenses related to bar exam review courses.

The AWA Houston was founded in 1976 when a small group of women lawyers organized to increase opportunities for women attorneys and improve awareness of their capabilities throughout the legal community. Almost four decades later, the group has grown to 275 women who network, perform judicial candidate screening and provide judicial recommendations, mentor law students, and host CLE events. The AWA Houston luncheon will take place at the Downtown Hyatt at 11:30 in the morning. More information is available at awahouston.org.

Nominations Open for 2013 Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters Business, is accepting nominations for the 2013 Super Lawyers Pro Bono Awards through Oct. 30, the company announced.

The annual awards honor individual lawyers, law firms, law students, law schools, and other institutions in the legal profession that exemplify excellence in practice through delivery of volunteer legal services to the poor, underrepresented, or exploited.

Recipients are researched and chosen by a review committee, which evaluates each application based on several factors including legal effort, personal contribution, impact to the law, and innovation. Law students and law programs are evaluated on additional factors such as community outreach and leadership.

Each recipient will receive a monetary award as well as editorial coverage in a special pro bono Super Lawyers Digital Magazine, the Super Lawyers blog, and on SuperLawyers.com.

To nominate for the award or for more information, visit SuperLawyers.com/ProBono.


State Bar to honor Dallas nonprofit for legal work assisting immigrant women

The State Bar of Texas Women and the Law Section has chosen the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas as the 2013 winner of the newly named Louise B. Raggio Award.

The Dallas-based nonprofit organization is receiving the award after its all-female team of attorneys helped nearly 200 immigrant women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area last year through its William O. Holston Volunteer Attorney Program. The bar will present the award June 20 during its annual meeting in Dallas.

“We are privileged here at HRI to have three women attorneys who are fierce advocates for women,” Bill Holston, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement. “Chris Mansour, Melissa Weaver and Martha Gonzalez are the consummate professionals. They are compassionate and fearless advocates for our clients. Whether it is a young woman escaping the bonds of domestic violence or a woman from Africa seeking refuge from female genital mutilation, our lawyers are passionate advocates for our clients’ fight to begin a new life in America.”

The bar’s Women and the Law Section established the Raggio award, formerly called the Ma’at Justice Award, in 1995 to recognize attorneys or groups of attorneys who advance justice and address the needs and issues affecting women in the legal profession and in society.

TMCP counsel of the year award nominations deadline is June 15

The TMCP Corporate Counsel of the Year and Trailblazer Outside Counsel of the Year awards nomination deadline is June 15, 2011. Visit www.texasbar.com/tmcp for more details and nomination forms.

The Corporate Counsel of the Year Award is presented to the corporate counsel that has done the most to open doors for Texas minority and women attorneys by promoting diversity within their department and/or company, and by consistently hiring minority and/or women attorneys in private practice to perform legal work on behalf of their company.

The Trailblazer Outside Counsel of the Year Award is presented to the nominee judged by the Selection Committee to have done the most to effectuate the promotion of diversity within the legal profession through hiring, retention and mentoring of minority and women attorneys, partnering with minority and women owned law firms, and involvement with Bar and/or community activities designed to promote diversity within the legal profession.

Lawyers volunteer and earn a "Standing Ovation"

Eight Texas attorneys were honored this month by the State Bar of Texas for their exceptional contributions in 2010 to the Bar's continuing legal education efforts. Justice Harvey G. Brown, Jr., of Houston, David A. Chaumette of Houston, Tina R. Green of Texarkana, Randall Coyt Johnston of Dallas, Christopher Kirby of Bastrop, Michael C. Smith of Marshall, Peter S. Vogel of Dallas, and Charles M. Wilson III of Addison each received an award from the staff of TexasBarCLE, the Bar's division for providing continuing legal education and one of the premier providers in the nation.

The award, a handsome cobalt blue obelisk, is inscribed with "A Standing Ovation — Staff Appreciation for an Outstanding Volunteer of 2010." It also bears the name of the recipient, the logo for TexasBarCLE, and the seal of the State Bar of Texas.

Pat Nester, Director of TexasBarCLE, explained the significance of the award. "It is a recognition by the staff of individuals who have stood out this last year for their extraordinary commitment — of time, of leadership — and for the inspiration and insights they provided."

The attorneys’ contributions included chairing and serving on committees to plan and present continuing legal education courses, speaking and writing for courses, and generating ideas for new programs.     

"Volunteers are the lifeblood of what we do," Nester continued. "Hundreds graciously give of their time and expertise to help us each year. Without them, continuing legal education from the State Bar wouldn't be nearly as high quality, as abundant, or as affordable. It's one of the great manifestations of lawyers giving back to the legal profession."

Asian Pacific Interest Section seeks nominations for 2010 Justice David Wellington Chew Award

The Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas (APIS) is seeking nominations for the 2010 Justice David Wellington Chew Award, which honors individuals whose contributions benefit the Asian-Pacific American legal community in Texas. The award was named after Justice Chew, one of the first Asian-Pacific Americans in the Texas judiciary, who currently presides as Chief Justice of the Eighth Court of Appeals.

The deadline for receipt of nominations is Friday, March 26, 2010, at 5:00 p.m. The award will be presented on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the Fourteenth Annual APIS Conference and Retreat to be held in Austin, Texas . More details can be found at http://texasapis.org/award.php.

Law Day at the Texas Law Center

Harper Estes and Law Day essay winnerThe State Bar of Texas celebrated Law Day today at the Texas Law Center in Austin with a ceremony to recognize Texas students and their award-winning projects on this year's Law Day theme, "A Legacy of Liberty: Celebrating Lincoln's Bicentennial." Students from across the state showed their creativity and thoughtfulness on the Law Day theme through poster, photography, and essay contests. State Bar of President Harper Estes and President-elect Roland Johnson were on hand to present awards to the statewide winners. Prizes ranged from $50 to $1,000 with each winner also receiving a medal and a framed certificate. The essay contest winner, Veronika Johannsen (pictured with President Estes), of Memorial High School in Victoria, read her winning paper on "A Legacy of Liberty." (Go here for a complete list of winners.) The event concluded with a tour of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the 3rd Court of Appeals for the students and their families, and several students seemed very intrigued by the idea of sitting on the bench. 

Texas A&M honors transgendered lawyer Phyllis Frye

As Houston lawyer Phyllis R. Frye (pictured) describes it, she’s “had more than [her] 15 minutes of fame, enjoyed it, and handled it well.” Still, she says she is honored and surprised that Texas A&M University has named  the Phyllis Frye Advocacy Award after her. Its first recipient is Dr. James Rosenheim, who will be recognized April 29 during a ceremony presented by A&M’s Department of Multicultural Services. A promo for the awards ceremony says Rosenheim exemplifies "Phyllis Frye's philosophy of not just walking through doors of intolerance, but tearing them down," and that Rosenheim is being recognized for nurturing relationships among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) staff, students, and community members over two decades.

Frye, a partner in Frye and Cantu, PLLC, is nationally known for her activism and advocacy on LGBT issues.

As a man, Frye received engineering degrees from Texas A&M in 1970 and 1971. She transitioned her gender in 1976, and says that over the years her involvement as an A&M alumnus went from being shunned by members of a Houston alumni group early on, to gradual acceptance at reunions of the Singing Cadets and her graduating class. Frye has received numerous awards for her work in  the legal community and the LGBT movement, but seems bowled over by this A&M recognition. “It’s very humbling,” she said. “To have a university name an award after you is a neat thing. I'm thrilled.”

CLE staff gives volunteers a standing O

TexasBarCLE, the State Bar's professional development program, is lucky to have hundreds of volunteer speakers and authors who help back up its slogan, "Education by the Bar, for the Bar." Staff members of TexasBarCLE recently honored four volunteers who they felt made outstanding contributions during 2008. J. Cary Barton of San Antonio, Chad Baruch of Plano, Rhonda H. Brink of Austin, and David A. Weatherbie of Dallas each received 2008 Standing Ovation Awards in the form of handsome blue obelisks engraved with their names (pictured).

"All of our volunteers deserve our gratitude for contributing to the continuing education of their peers," said Pat Nester, director of TexasBarCLE. "Nevertheless, some stand out each year for extraordinary dedication and commitment. The staff looks forward to singling out individuals that not only gave enormously to our efforts, but also were gracious, easy to work with, and -- oftentimes -- helped us out in a real pinch."

2008-2009 YouTube Contest winners announced

Here are the official winners of the 2008-2009 State Bar YouTube Contest, "Ideals That Unite Us," in which State Bar President Harper Estes invited all Texans to contemplate the ideals that unite us as citizens of this country.

In the Over 18 category, the winner is Gabriel Evans' video, "Memories Unite Us:"

In the Under 18 category, winners for the second year in a row, the Chaumette brothers, Raphael and Alexandre, won with their video "Ideals: Every Citizen Counts!"

And the winner of the People's Choice Award is Manuel Hernandez's "Ideals That Unite Us - Raising the Bar for Justice:"

All entries were evaluated by a panel of judges to determine the winners of the Over 18 and Under 18 categories. The People's Choice winner was determined by the video that received the most views on YouTube.

Evans and Hernandez will receive $2,500 cash prizes for winning in the Over 18 and People's Choice categories.  And the Chaumette brothers will receive a $2,500 scholarship for winning in the Under 18 category.

All winners have been invited to attend a red carpet awards ceremony to be held in conjunction with next week's State Bar board meeting in Fort Worth.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this year's contest. We will announce the theme of the 2009-2010 State Bar YouTube Contest later this year, so stay tuned!

Linda Addison a 2009 Margaret Brent winner

Linda Addison, a partner in the Houston and New York offices of Fulbright & Jaworksi L.L.P., is one of five recipients of the 2009 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. This ABA award was established in 1991 to honor outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence and paved the way to success for others. Addison's honors and professional achievements are too numerous to list here, but she's a longtime contributor to the State Bar of Texas, in many roles. Other Margaret Brent honorees this year include Helaine M. Barnett, Judge Arnette R. Hubbard, Judge Vanessa Ruiz, and Loretta A. Tuell. Read more in the ABA's press release.

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