Texas lawyers, legal organization to receive ABA Difference Makers Awards in San Antonio

Three Texas attorneys and a San Antonio legal services organization will receive national awards for breaking down barriers through community service, pro bono work, and service to the legal profession, the American Bar Association announced today

The list of 2014 Difference Makers Awards recipients includes State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa M. Tatum, former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Houston immigration lawyer Harry Gee Jr., and RAICES, a San Antonio-based legal services and education organization for refugees and immigrants.
 

 

The awards will be presented Friday, Oct. 24 in San Antonio during the 9th Annual National Solo & Small Firm Conference, presented by the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.

Tatum, the owner of San Antonio-based LM Tatum, PLLC, will receive the 2014 Making a Difference Through Community Service Award, which honors an attorney—living or deceased—who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the local community.

Tatum has served in leadership positions in local, state, and national bar associations and has been active in her community as an alumnus of Leadership San Antonio, a member of local chambers of commerce and the Greater San Antonio YMCA Board of Directors, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, among other activities.

During her term as State Bar president in 2013-2014, Tatum guided the launch of two major initiatives: I was the First. Vote for Me!, an award-winning interactive civics education project for Texas elementary school students, and the Care Campaign, an effort to empower attorneys to serve the millions of low-income Texans who can’t afford the legal help they need.

Click the links below for more information about the recipients.

 

EDITORIAL: Celebrate the Importance of American Freedom

By Trey Apffel

The Constitution is a crucial thread in the fabric of our country’s history. As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once said, the Constitution changed world history “for the perpetual benefit of mankind. In 1787, no country in the world had ever allowed its citizens to select their own form of government, much less to select a democratic government.”

Although the Constitution was written long ago, the founding document still plays a significant role in our daily lives as it guarantees the precious liberties and fundamental rights for all U.S. citizens and puts “governance in the hands of the people.”

 In 2001, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1776, which established Celebrate Freedom Week. Texas public schools are encouraged to spend the week focusing on the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. Local school districts honor Celebrate Freedom Week during the week of Sept. 17, Constitution Day, to commemorate the signing of the historic document in 1787.

Along with our profound freedom comes the responsibility of increased civic education and citizenry. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt expressed the urgency of educating our prospective leaders in justice and civic involvement: “Our children should learn the general framework of their government and then they should know where they come in contact with the government, where it touches their daily lives and where their influence is exerted on the government. It must not be a distant thing, someone else’s business, but they must see how every cog in the wheel of a democracy is important and bears its share of responsibility for the smooth running of the entire machine.”

Civic education is important to society because civic virtue fosters engaged citizens who understand our democracy and the liberties the rule of law protects. Ensuring that our children receive a solid foundation in civics is essential to producing the next generation of responsible citizens in our communities.

In the spirit of Celebrate Freedom Week, the State Bar of Texas offers resources designed to help educate the public about the law. The State Bar’s Law Related Education (LRE) Department has helped train over 6,000 educators on civic education programs and curriculum by using technology that will captivate and prepare students for responsible citizenship.

Through the department, teachers and students in elementary, middle, and high school are able to experience the interactive, Web-based programs I was the First. Vote for Me! and Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! in preparing for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.

I was the First. Vote for Me! engages students through animated historical figures such as Susan B. Anthony, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Students and teachers can access this interactive program in English and Spanish at texasbar.com/iwasthefirst.

Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! focuses on landmark court decisions Texas students must know to prepare for assessments in the U.S. government and history. Students and teachers can search case summaries, watch short films, and find other helpful resources at texasbar.com/civics.

Lesson plans focused on Constitution Day, interactive games, and civic education resources can be found at texaslre.org.

As we celebrate the Constitution, let us not only enjoy the rights and freedoms that we have as American citizens, but let us be accountable in educating our youth on the importance of our founding documents to ensure that democracy lives on. The values that are crucial for our system of government can only prevail if sustained by future generations.

Trey Apffel is president of the State Bar of Texas and the founder and owner of Apffel Law Firm in Galveston. He may be reached via email at statebarpresident@texasbar.com

 

Tatum speaks at national bar meeting, accepts civics education award

BOSTON — State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa Tatum joined Missouri Bar Past President Lynn Ann Vogel on Aug. 8 to present “Creating Energy in Your Bar,” a presentation highlighting successful bar programs from across the country.

“There’s no point in reinventing the wheel if you can take what you like from these programs and make it your own,” Tatum said during the presentation, which was part of the National Conference of Bar Presidents 2014 Annual Meeting.

Tatum and Vogel used the hourlong presentation to share tips, tactics, and innovative ideas from more than two dozen bar association programs, including Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, an initiative of 2010-2011 State Bar of Texas President Terry Tottenham.

Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans helps develop and assist pro bono legal clinics for military veterans who can’t afford or lack access to legal services. The program continues to grow, and more than 30 local bar associations are now participating. In all, approximately 4,000 attorneys have volunteered to help more than 13,000 veterans through the program.

Slides from the presentation and other National Conference of Bar Presidents sessions are available here

While in Boston, Tatum represented the State Bar of Texas in accepting a National Association of Bar Executives LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Award for the I was the First. Vote for Me! civics education project, one of her initiatives as president in 2013-2014. Judges unanimously selected the project in the category of state bars with more than 18,000 members and commended it for incorporating history, reading, math, and voting into a single program.

Through a book and a series of 30-second animations, I was the First. Vote for Me! teaches elementary school students about important figures in U.S. and Texas history included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. Both the website and the book are available in English and Spanish.

The award was presented Aug. 7 during the National Association of Bar Executives 2014 Annual Meeting

Top: State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa Tatum, right, and Missouri Bar Past President Lynn Ann Vogel after their Aug. 8 presentation at the National Conference of Bar Presidents 2014 Annual Meeting in Boston. Above, from left: State Bar of Texas Executive Director Michelle Hunter, 2014-2015 President-elect Allan DuBois, Tatum, and 2014-2015 President Trey Apffel at the National Association of Bar Executives awards ceremony, where Tatum accepted an award for the State Bar of Texas civics education program I was the First. Vote for Me!
 

 

State Bar of Texas education project wins national award

A State Bar of Texas project educating elementary students on important firsts in U.S. and Texas history has been awarded a National Association of Bar Executives LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Award. The award honors outstanding bar public service and law-related education programs.

 

The State Bar of Texas’s I was the First. Vote for Me! project was unanimously selected in the category of state bars with more than 18,000 members and was commended for incorporating history, reading, math, and voting into one program.

I was the First. Vote for Me!, an initiative of 2013-2014 State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum of San Antonio, is an interactive program educating elementary students about important figures in U.S. and Texas history included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.

Through 30-second animations, nearly two dozen historic figures share their significance while their words are displayed “karaoke style” across the bottom of the screen. After viewing the animations, students can vote on their favorite animation and view the results in a graph.

In addition to the web-based materials, a book is available in hard copy and e-reader. Both the website and book are prepared in English and Spanish.

 

State Bar President Lisa Tatum to receive civics award

State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum will be honored for her work in promoting civics during the seventh annual Women That Soar awards ceremony, event organizers announced. 

Tatum, the owner of LM Tatum PLLC in San Antonio, will receive the 2014 Civic Award from Women That Soar, a media and content development company that produces inspiring information and events for women. The awards honor extraordinary women in the fields of entertainment, sports, business, fashion, arts, philanthropy, media, and civics.

A televised awards ceremony will take place Nov. 8 in Dallas.

Tatum is receiving the Civic Award for her many professional and personal contributions, event organizers said.

Committed to investing in and empowering her community, Tatum is an alumna of Leadership San Antonio, Class XXIX, and a member of local chambers and the Greater San Antonio YMCA Board of Directors. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and currently serves as a member of several bar associations and the Rotary Club of San Antonio.

As 2013-2014 State Bar president, Tatum has helped introduce the civics education project I was the first. Vote for Me! to attorneys, teachers, and students across Texas.

The project uses short, animated films to teach elementary school students about some of the historic firsts who are part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. With help from the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department, the project has been introduced to more than 4,778 teachers at 119 seminars, reaching more than 196,000 students.

The award is one of many Tatum has received for her work as an attorney and bar leader. She was recently named to the Lawyers of Color 2014 Power List, which honors the country’s most influential minority attorneys.

State Bar educational initiative launched in classrooms

As students across the state returned to the classrooms to kick off a new school year this August, the opportunity for attorneys to host a session of the State Bar of Texas project “I was the first. Vote for Me!” also began.

In Williamson County, Lisa Richardson joined forces with Wendi Lester-Boyd and Stacey Mathews, both fellow Williamson County attorneys, and Mya Mercer, principal of Old Town Elementary, to bring the program—and the importance of Celebrate Freedom Week and Constitution Day—to more than 400 first through fifth grade students. Pictured from left to right: Lisa Richardson, Richardson & Cechura, PLLC in Round Rock; Mya Mercer, Principal of Old Town Elementary, Round Rock ISD; Wendi Lester-Boyd, Wendi Lester and Associates, PC  

“I would love to be able to get this [project] into all the Williamson County schools,” said Richardson. “It’s an educational project that’s well-thought-out.”

Launched in July and inspired by Lisa Tatum’s election as the first African-American State Bar of Texas president, “I was the first. Vote for Me!” is a multimedia project that works to inform students about a series of historic leaders who were firsts, from Susan B. Anthony and Sam Houston to Cesar Chavez and Barack Obama. After students are introduced to each character by way of a colorful animation, they cast a vote for the “first” they believe a fictional school should be named for. The project incorporates lessons in reading, math, citizenship, and voting and aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for elementary students.

While leading her session, Richardson observed that the project’s way of delivering information about the Constitution and its founders was both educational and enjoyable, and students appeared to agree. 

“It was fun to have these fifth graders really start talking about all of these people,” said Richardson. “It seemed to start making sense as to who some of these people were and why this document was written. So it was hands-on for them.”

And that’s exactly why the program was developed. Jan Miller, director of State Bar of Texas Law Related Education, said that “I was the first. Vote for Me!” was designed to get students engaged and interested in the history and the importance of the figures. 

While Richardson’s group used the Celebrate Freedom Week materials, “I was the first. Vote for Me!” can be adapted for a variety of celebrations and recognitions, including Veterans Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Law Day.

Richardson added that having attorneys lead the sessions was also great exposure to the field of law and an opportunity for students to ask about the profession.

If you are open to leading a classroom session, or know of students who would benefit from a presentation in their class, go to texasbar.com/iwasthefirst to learn more.