Houston Bar to celebrate Law Day with extended LegalLine hours, community service programs

The Houston Bar Association announced Wednesday it will offer extended hours for its free legal advice program, LegalLine, and sponsor public education programs in honor of Law Day, a national holiday recognizing the rule of law. 

The extended LegalLine program will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 7. The public can call the Houston Bar Association at 713-759-1133, where volunteer attorneys will answer simple legal questions, give brief legal advice, or refer the caller to the appropriate social service or legal aid agency for further assistance.

This year’s Law Day theme is American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters. The association’s other Law Day-related programs are listed below.

  • From late April through early May, attorneys and judges will read the book Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote to elementary students in 100 classrooms throughout school districts and private schools in Harris County. For participating schools, contact Tara Shockley at 713-759-1133 or taras@hba.org.
  • On May 1, HBA President David Chaumette, Harris County Administrative Judge Robert Schaffer, and District Clerk Chris Daniel will pass out pocket-size copies of the Constitution to all citizens who report for jury duty at the Harris County Jury Assembly Room.
  • Also on May 1, the HBA and the Harris County judges will present the annual Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards for outstanding pro bono legal services to law firms, a corporation, and an individual in a noon ceremony at the Civil Courthouse.
  • Attorney/judge teams will hold interactive “Dialogues” on the importance of voting in a number of high school classes in late April through mid-May.
  • Law Day posters created by elementary and middle school students will be on display in several office buildings and courthouses in downtown Houston from April 28 to May 9.

 

Free legal clinic for veterans April 12 in Conroe

Veterans who need legal advice can visit a free legal clinic Saturday, April 12 in Conroe.

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Court.

No appointment is necessary.

The Montgomery County Bar Association, the Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative are co-sponsoring the clinic.

Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive advice and counsel at the clinic 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.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (first floor) from 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays. For more information on the clinics, visit hba.org.

Houston Bar event offers free wills, medical directives to low-income seniors

Elderly citizens who meet income guidelines can receive simple wills and basic medical directives at a free event sponsored by the Houston Bar Association’s Elder Law Committee.

To apply for assistance through the committee’s Will-A-Thon, senior citizens must call 713-228-0735 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. by April 4 to complete a screening application over the phone, according to the Houston Bar. To qualify, applicants must be Harris County residents 60 years of age or older and meet the Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ low-income guidelines.

 

Those who qualify will receive an appointment to meet with a volunteer attorney on April 9 at the Third Ward Multi-Purpose Center, 3611 Ennis, Suite 118. The documents will be completed and executed on May 21 at the Third Ward Multi-Purpose Center.

The committee provides free legal services and advice to senior citizens in Harris County, as well as free handbooks on elder law.

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.

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.

 

The Montgomery County Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative are co-sponsoring the clinic.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly clinics from 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays on the first floor of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at 2002 Holcombe Blvd. in Houston. For more information, visit www.hba.org.

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.

 

In a news release, the HBA said it impacted more than 53,000 people in the Houston area through its programming on the Law Day theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.”

A new HBA Law Day event was a “Day at the Courthouse,” where 45 special-needs students from middle and high schools saw a re-enactment of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS case and learned about the importance of the ruling from Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

The students also toured the historic 1910 Courthouse and used gavels, scales of justice, law books, and the courtroom itself to create images for a Law Day photo contest for special-needs students. Fourteenth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost organized the event.

The HBA also conducted its annual Law Day poster, essay, and photography contests open to all Houston-area elementary, middle and high schools; conducted dialogues on freedom between attorney-judge teams and high school seniors; held poster workshops for children in three low-income areas of the city; created Law Day education and legal resource packets for every Harris County district and county court; fielded questions from nearly 300 callers during a Law Day LegalLine program; and scheduled members to read a law-themed book to elementary students in more than 100 schools.

Learn more about Law Day here.

 

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.”

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

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

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

Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Walmart support launch of program

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

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

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

MLP is a unique health-care delivery model that brings physicians and lawyers together to tackle health issues that have legal, rather than medical solutions.  This could include negotiating with a landlord to address sub-standard living conditions, such as a mold infestation triggering a child’s asthma; helping a family secure Medicaid payment for a specialized wheelchair or home nursing services; or preparing legal guardianships to allow parents to continue making health care decisions for their children with special needs after they turn 18.  

The Texas Children’s MLP initially will provide legal aid to patients in five areas:  Inpatient Rehabilitation, Fetal Center, Special Needs Primary Care Clinic, Retrovirology and Texas Children’s Pediatrics-Gulfgate. 

“Houston is blessed to have world class medical and legal communities,” said Brent Benoit, president of the Houston Bar Association. “Yet, we have individuals who are lost between these two groups—in need of health care, but with legal problems that prevent or frustrate their health care access.”

“Walmart is proud to support Texas Children’s Hospital to establish this important program,” said Jeff Gearhart, executive vice president and general counsel of Walmart.  “We’ve seen firsthand through our work with Arkansas Children’s Hospital that the medical-legal partnership is making a difference.  Families in need are receiving free legal advice otherwise unavailable to resolve issues that go beyond a hospital’s medical services.  This announcement furthers our goal to help create a network of medical-legal partnerships at children’s hospitals across the country.”

Endorsed by organizations such as the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association, medical-legal partnerships give health care teams the ability to treat adverse social conditions facing their already-ill patients. 

“Many of our patient families face challenging social conditions that further complicate their loved one’s medical condition. In many cases, an attorney is able to address those issues and healthcare outcomes improve. The Texas Children’s MLP attorney will work in collaboration with the healthcare team and we are confident that hundreds of our patients will benefit from this on-site legal assistance.  We are grateful to Houston Volunteer Lawyers for partnering with us in the establishment of this critical program. ,” said Sarah Maytum, director of patient and family services.

Other children’s hospitals with MLPs include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, and Children’s Hospital Boston.

Contacts: Christy Brunton         
O: (832) 824-2645
C: (281) 684-3184
cbrunto@texaschildrens.org


About Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation, Texas Children’s has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialti

es including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston.  For more information on Texas Children's, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children’s by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

About Houston Bar Association, Houston Volunteer Lawyers
Founded in 1981 by the Houston Bar Association, Houston Volunteer Lawyers has delivered free legal services to low-income residents of Harris County for almost a quarter of a century, by linking qualified applicants with attorneys who volunteer their time on a pro bono basis.  Houston Volunteer Lawyers receives over 34,000 calls for assistance each year and annually delivers pro bono legal services valued at over $4 million to qualified applicants.  Additional information can be found by visiting www.hvlp.org or by following Houston Volunteer Lawyers on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HVLPInc) or Twitter (twitter.com/HVLPTweets). 

About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices.  Each week, more than 200 million customers and members visit our 10,300 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries.  With fiscal year 2012 sales of approximately $444 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com and www.samsclub.com.

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.
 

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!