Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Rosa M. Peterson

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 24-30). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week, we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.

Rosa M. Peterson is a 3L at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I am involved in multiple pro bono projects here at St. Mary’s and have been since the middle of my first semester of 1L year. I have had the honor of participating in workshops with varying focuses including expunction, veterans’ rights, pro se divorce, wills, psychiatric advance directives, alternatives to guardianship, ID recovery, and immigration.

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Posted inNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Maddy Dwertman

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 24-30). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week, we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.

Maddy Dwertman is a senior associate of Baker Botts in Austin.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been engaged with pro bono work since I started practicing law in 2014. My pro bono practice is largely focused on representing asylum seekers and other individuals seeking humanitarian protection in immigration court, as well as in appellate proceedings and before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In addition to direct representation, I’ve also assisted nonprofit legal service providers with drafting comments to several proposed regulations regarding the immigration system. The other piece of my pro bono practice is focused on transgender rights. I regularly assist members of the trans community with name and gender marker changes, and I am currently co-counsel in a federal court case challenging the constitutionality of a state statute that bars transgender people from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Omar Itani

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 24-30). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week, we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.

Omar Itani, a 3L at UNT Dallas School of Law and a native of Dallas, is the first in his family to go to college and law school. He participates in a variety of engagements. Itani is vice president of the American Muslim Law Student Association, a member of UNT Dallas College of Law Board of Advocates, a UNT Dallas College of Law Community Engagement Program Ambassador, and a member of the Bell Nunnally Business Law Forum. He plans on practicing business law after law school.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been focusing my efforts on community education, specifically in consumer arbitration matters. I present information about arbitration to inform community members about keeping themselves protected from predatory arbitration agreements. I’ve been working on the Community Arbitration Project since December 2020. I also did pro bono work with Census 2020, where I led a team of callers to reach out to those who had not yet filled out their Census form. Our outreach program contacted thousands of community members.

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Posted inLaw Firms and Legal DepartmentsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Emily Buchanan

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 24-30). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week, we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.

Emily Buchanan is an associate of Haynes and Boone in Dallas where she practices in the Insurance Recovery Practice Group.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I have helped with expungement cases, intake clinics with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, and preparing wills and estate documents for a variety of pro bono clients. Lately, my passion has been focused on helping veterans in the VA hospital’s hospice unit who need to prepare their will and estate documents.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: David Joseph “D.J.” Deutch

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 24-30). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week, we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.

David Joseph “D.J.” Deutch is a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law and is originally from Sydney, Australia. Before coming to law school, he worked for the United Nations in the Middle East on issues of economic development and human rights law. Deutch is currently externing with the federal public defender’s office in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. He plans on practicing criminal law and working as a public defender. Deutch holds a master of public administration from Columbia University.

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Posted inEthics

Committee seeks public comments on proposed ethics opinion

The Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas is accepting public comments on the following proposed ethics opinion through December 21.

  • Proposed Opinion 21-4: (1) May a lawyer who practices in a private law firm that regularly represents a public entity accept a position with a hiring law firm that is routinely adverse to the public entity, without creating a conflict for all lawyers in the hiring firm? (2) Given that the public entity client is governed by open meetings and open records laws, and aspects of the firm’s representation of the public entity are disclosed publicly or are available under law, does the “generally known” exception to a lawyer’s obligations of confidentiality allow the hiring firm to avoid the migrating lawyer’s conflicts? (3) Does Rule 1.10 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which allows ethical screening for government lawyers who move to a private law firm, apply to a lawyer who previously represented public entities at a private law firm?

Go here to read the proposed opinion and provide comments.

Posted inBlogGuest Blog

Should you have to worry about private creditors accessing your tax return?

Debt is the easiest thing to accumulate but the hardest to get rid of. If you’re not careful, the amount of debt you have could be so high that the ability to pay it down could be unreasonable. One aspect of having debt that could be challenging is the process of creditors attempting to collect the debt, especially when there is uncertainty about repayment.

Many people look forward to times where additional funds are received, such as a tax refund. This could be an opportunity to pay creditors and get debt repayment back on track. But what many people who are in debt want to know is if private creditors can access documentation of tax returns or their funds before they do.

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Posted inDiversityLaw SchoolsNewsPeople

Benny Agosto Jr. and Nikki Agosto donate $3 million to South Texas College of Law Houston to establish diversity center

Benny Agosto Jr. and Nikki Agosto donated $3 million to South Texas College of Law Houston, or STCL, to establish a diversity center at the law school. Only one donation to the law school has exceeded this amount.

In recognition of the donation, the new center will be named the Benny Agosto Jr. Diversity Center at South Texas College of Law Houston.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNews

University of Houston Law Center launches publication aimed at undergrad students interested in law school

The University of Houston Law Center debuted Aspiring Lawyer, a publication dedicated to undergraduate students nationwide interested in attending law school.

Aspiring Lawyer will feature insights, tips, success stories, and guidance for pre-law students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds.

“I am delighted that we have established the Aspiring Lawyer magazine which will provide helpful hints and advice for students who plan to be lawyers,” said Leonard M. Baynes, dean of the University of Houston Law Center, in a press release. “UH Law Center has always provided a pathway to the profession for law school students of all backgrounds. It’s only rational for us to produce this magazine so that as many people as possible know that a legal education is within their reach and to help them achieve their dreams.”

Aspiring Lawyer is a complement to UH Law Center’s Pre-Law Pipeline Program. The Pipeline Program has four tracks and a history of excellence. Eighty-two scholars have been accepted to law school and have received $5,434,229 in scholarship funds.

To read Aspiring Lawyer, go to law.uh.edu/aspiringlawyer/.

For more information about the University of Houston Law Center, go to law.uh.edu.

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