Posted inLaw SchoolsNews

SMU Law team wins American Bar Association’s 2024 National Appellate Advocacy Competition

The SMU Dedman School of Law team of Matthew Mussalli (3L), Jordon B.V. Smith (3L), and Johanna Pang (2L) won the American Bar Association’s 2024 National Appellate Advocacy Competition held April 7 in Philadelphia.

The team, coached by SMU Adjunct Professors Lance Caughfield and Haleigh Jones, a 2015 graduate of SMU Law and former student of Caughfield’s, captured the regional title out of a field of 31 teams in February in Brooklyn, New York, to advance to the championship round. SMU’s second team of Bronwyn Tuff, Alan Cuff, and Rachael Briner also progressed to the final round of the regional competition.

The NAAC is the largest moot court competition in the country, and over 178 teams competed in this year’s event, according to an SMU press release. The competition emphasizes the development of oral advocacy skills and techniques through the experience of realistic appellate advocacy. Teams from each law school take part in a hypothetical appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and write a mock brief as either a respondent or a petitioner before arguing their case before the mock court.

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Posted inNews

Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program hosts free legal clinics in May

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, an initiative of the Dallas Bar Association, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and local lawyers, is hosting free virtual and in-person legal clinics for eligible Dallas County residents throughout May. Continue Reading

Posted inNewsPro Bono

Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee announces Pro Bono Excellence award winners

The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee announced its 2024 Pro Bono Excellence award winners.

Retired Judge Lora J. Livingston, of Austin, received the Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award; Nathaniel Peter Holzer, of Corpus Christi, received the Frank J. Scurlock Award; Lauren Joyner, of Edinburg, received the J. Chrys Dougherty Award; Methodist Justice Ministry, of Fort Worth, received the Pro Bono Award; Sylvia Chavez, of Plainview, received the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; Susan Davis, of Fort Worth, received the Pro Bono Support Staff Award; and Haynes and Boone, of Dallas, received the W. Frank Newton Award.

Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award—Retired Judge Lora J. Livingston

 The Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award honors a sitting or retired judge who has provided exemplary pro bono service, including outreach to attorneys to increase the quantity and quality of pro bono representation; modifications to court processes to increase access to justice; advocacy on behalf of access to justice; service as a volunteer judge for pro bono clinics; or other pro bono proceedings. Retired Judge Lora J. Livingston was elected to the bench of the 261st District Court in Travis County in 1998. At that time, she became the first African American woman to preside over a Travis County district court. Livingston has been recognized both in Texas and nationally as a leader in advocating for equal access to justice. She was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve on the board of the Texas Access to Justice Commission and has also served on the board of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Livingston’s accomplishments include overseeing the design and construction of the Travis County Civil and Family Courts facility, which includes a self-help center and law library for pro se individuals. Following her 40-year commitment to volunteer legal aid and public service, Livingston retired from the bench in 2022.

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Posted inNews

Dallas Bar Association hosts e-clinics in May

Volunteer attorneys will be available to answer legal questions on Wednesdays in May through the Dallas Bar Association’s LegalLine E-Clinic. The clinics, which run from 4 to 8 p.m., are free of cost.

A volunteer attorney will call a participant for up to 15 minutes of legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be established. Individuals may receive referrals to local, legal, or social service agencies.

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Posted inState BarTexas Lawyers' Assistance ProgramTLAP

Stories of Recovery: You Can Get Better

Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call or text TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) or find more information at tlaphelps.org.

It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t feel uniquely awful growing up—where I felt deserving of happiness, friendship, and love. I was a weird kid growing up, which probably made the isolation feel worse. But then I discovered alcohol. And alcohol was the miracle for which I had always been searching.
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Posted inSponsored Content

Sponsored Content: Are Revocable Trusts the New Estate Planning Craze?

In my previous life as a practicing Estate Planning attorney, I would often joke with clients who brought me revocable trusts to review. My go-to quip was to ask the age and retirement date of their former planner.

Whether that got a laugh is debatable, but one thing this is certain. Revocable trusts have become increasingly popular in the last decade, largely due to one statutory phrase…“less restrictive alternatives to guardianship.”
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Posted inAbout The BarNews

State Bar of Texas board to meet April 19 in Galveston

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors will hold its quarterly meeting April 19 in Galveston.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Tremont House, 2300 Ship Mechanic St. The meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live on the State Bar of Texas YouTube channel.

The agenda and meeting materials are available here.

Among the agenda items, the board will:

  • Consider and discuss approval of the State Bar of Texas 2024-2025 proposed budget for presentation to the Supreme Court of Texas.
  • Consider and discuss approval of a statutory membership fees increase effective in fiscal year 2025-2026. For background on the proposal, read the Executive Director’s Page from the March 2024 issue of the Texas Bar Journal here.
  • Consider and discuss approval of a plan to develop a recommendation on the amount, timing, and necessity of a referendum for a second membership fees increase.
  • Elect a board chair for the 2024-2025 bar year.
  • Consider the appointment of Caren Lock, of Lewisville, as an at-large director.
  • Hear an update on the Taskforce for Responsible AI in the Law.
  • Receive a report on the 1415 Lavaca project from the Building Planning Special Committee.

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Posted inNews

Child Protection Law Section presents Tara Grigg Green with Rutland Advocacy in Excellence Award

The Child Protection Law Section of the State Bar of Texas presented Tara Grigg Green with its Rutland Advocacy in Excellence Award, during a luncheon at the section’s 6th Annual Advanced Child Protection Law Course in April in Dallas.

One of the section’s most prestigious awards, the Rutland Advocacy in Excellence Award honors a lawyer who demonstrates distinguished legal service in the area of child protection law. The recipient is selected from nominations made by the bar and received by the section’s Awards Committee. Green, the co-founder and executive director of Foster Care Advocacy Center, has extensive experience consulting on child welfare policy issues for organizations such as Casey Family Programs, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the Texas Children’s Commission, and the United States Children’s Bureau.

For more information about the section, go to childprotectionlawtx.com.

Photo: Tara Grigg Green poses with the Child Protection Law Section’s Rutland Advocacy in Excellence Award. Photo courtesy of the Child Protection Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Posted inNews

Texas Medical-Legal Partnership Coalition conference scheduled for April 12

The Texas Medical-Legal Partnership Coalition will hold its MLP conference and inaugural member meeting on April 12 on the campus of South Texas College of Law Houston, or STCL.

“This will be a groundbreaking event for professionals at the intersection of healthcare and law,” said Vinh Ho, senior director for legal services of the STCL Houston Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics, in a press release.

The conference will bring together a diverse group of experts, practitioners, and thought leaders to share ideas and experiences. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in critical discussions, participate in workshops, and network with peers dedicated to improving the health and well-being of communities through legal advocacy, according to a press release. The event also will feature panel discussions and breakout sessions, all aimed at equipping attendees with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the complex landscape of medical-legal collaboration.

Bethany Hamilton, co-director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, will present the keynote address, sharing insights from her experience in fostering partnerships between health care providers and legal professionals.

For more information and to register for the conference, go to txmlpc.org/events.

Posted inNews

Dallas Bar Association hosts e-clinics in April

Volunteer attorneys will be available to answer legal questions on Wednesdays in April through the Dallas Bar Association’s LegalLine E-Clinic. The clinics, which run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., are free of cost.

A volunteer attorney will call a participant for up to 15 minutes of legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be established. Individuals may receive referrals to local, legal, or social service agencies.

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