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.

 

Houston attorney reportedly becomes one of the longest practicing maritime lawyers in U.S.

The open waters that surround the comforting stability of the continents are considered by many to be powerful, plentiful, and unpredictable. Seas and oceans have their own unique set of commerce, issues, and visitors—from oil drillers and fishermen to recreational boaters and pirates—and thus are governed by highly specialized maritime law. Houston attorney Arthur Schechter knows this code well, having represented the seafaring for 50 years. On April 27, 2014, Schechter—who is a partner in Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris—celebrated this career milestone, which makes him one of the longest practicing maritime attorneys in U.S. history, according to a statement by his firm.

Also referred to as admiralty law, maritime law is complex, not widely taught in American law schools, and known by few U.S. attorneys. It covers matters related to shipping, navigation, insurance, canals, recreation, and more. Maritime law also provides that sea vessels are under the legal jurisdiction of the country whose flag they are flying based on a substantial relationship.

Although Schechter did not set out to practice in this area while a student at the University of Texas School of Law, maritime law soon found him. He worked with maritime clients, learning the intricate legal system surrounding various labor and employment benefits—such as workers compensation—and how these differed for longshoremen versus deep-water seamen, such as off shore workers who were injured in foreign waters while working for American companies.

Over the past five decades, Schechter said that the practice of maritime law has, in certain ways, changed considerably, including a diminished sense of collegiality. “There have also been some substantive legal changes,” he said.

Still, Schechter has continued to enjoy helping people, which he said is the purpose of the law. Among his past clients are the National Maritime Union, individual foreign seaman, the Indian Seaman’s Union, and the Pakistani Seaman’s Union. “The practice of maritime law,” said Schechter, “has been extraordinary as it has permitted me to handle cases arising all over the world and to work with many different social classes of plaintiffs who were also, in many instances, speakers of languages foreign to us and who suffered injury and damage in environments foreign to us. The cases and the clients were always fascinating and frequently humorous because of other cultural differences. I can honestly say that I loved the practice and felt that, no matter what kind of story was heard on a given day, human nature would always provide some surprise just as soon as I became convinced that I had ‘heard it all.’”

Houston firm sponsors scholarship to encourage text-free driving among teens

The Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is bringing attention to Distracted Driving Awareness Month by sponsoring its second annual Text Free Texas Scholarship Contest. The team of personal injury attorneys has noted their firsthand experience of how devastating one text can be.

Sophomore, junior, and senior students at El Campo High School, Lee High School, Waltrip High School, or Eastwood Academy in the Houston area are eligible to enter the contest by submitting a 150-word (or less) pledge to not text while behind the wheel. Pledges can be submitted by posting them on the law firm’s Facebook or Google+ pages. In May, Abraham Watkins will select the four top entries (one from each school), and the winners will each receive $250.

For more information, go to abrahamwatkins.com.

Program to help attorneys handle pro bono tax cases

Attorneys can learn how to handle a tax controversy case, audit techniques and procedures, and other helpful information at a free CLE program Feb. 7 in Houston.

Houston Volunteer Lawyers, together with the Houston Bar Association Tax Law Section and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, will present “How to Handle a Pro Bono Tax Case” from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 at South Texas College of Law.

The program will also teach attorneys when and how to litigate a tax case, the use of administrative appeals, and innocent spouse/injured spouse relief.

Attorneys who attend the seminar and accept a pro bono tax controversy case from Houston Volunteer Lawyers between Dec. 1, 2013, and Feb. 7, 2013, will be eligible to win an iPad, courtesy of Stratos Legal, that will be given away at the seminar.

Read the agenda and register here.

Houston attorney Benny Agosto Jr. to address South Texas College of Law graduates

On Dec. 14, personal injury attorney Benny Agosto Jr. will deliver the keynote address at the commencement ceremony of his alma mater, the South Texas College of Law in Houston.

STCL graduates can learn from Agosto’s personal story, particularly as they prepare to take the Texas bar exam and enter a less-than-prime job market. Although Agosto’s parents had no more than a sixth grade education, they instilled in him the value of hard work and a good education. He was recruited by Houston Baptist University for his soccer skills and went on to graduate from college, obtain his law degree, and have a successful law career.

Additionally, Agosto established the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation in 2006 and in 2011 served as the president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. Earlier this year he received the Peter Torres Jr. Community Service Award from the State Bar Hispanic Issues Section and the Litigation Counsel of America’s Peter Perlman Service Award.