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News on the Lawyers and Legal Professionals of Texas
Updated: 1 hour 24 min ago

Vick: State Bar has legal resources to help during Harvey

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 17:28

By G. Thomas Vick Jr.

When disasters like Hurricane Harvey strike Texas, the State Bar of Texas serves as a hub of legal and recovery-related resources for Texans and Texas lawyers (visit texasbar.com/disasters).

First, the State Bar operates a legal hotline—(800) 504-7030—that helps people find answers to basic legal questions and locate recovery resources in the wake of a disaster. The toll-free hotline is answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese and directly connects callers with legal aid providers in their area.

Callers can find help with problems such as replacing lost documents, answering insurance questions, tenant/landlord matters, and consumer protection issues such as avoiding price-gouging and contractor scams. Those who qualify for further assistance are matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help.

Texas property owners should be aware that House Bill 1774, passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, will change the law regarding how legal actions for certain insurance claims are handled, including some claims for property damages or losses caused by natural disasters. If you need to make an insurance claim related to Hurricane Harvey, you should study how the law may affect you. Claims made before September 1, 2017, will be subject to current law; those filed on or after September 1 will fall under the new law.

The State Bar also reminds the public that solicitation of a potential legal case, or barratry, is a crime unless the lawyer has a family relationship with you or you have been a client. It is also a crime for a non-lawyer employee or representative to solicit you unless a previous relationship exists. We encourage members of the public to report any prohibited contacts by lawyers or their representatives, whether in person, telephone, or otherwise, to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas at (877) 953-5535. If you need a lawyer, contact the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service at (800) 252-9690 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Finally, the State Bar works with the three Legal Services Corporation-funded legal aid agencies in the state—Lone Star Legal Aid, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid—to coordinate attorney volunteers and communications. The bar serves as a clearinghouse to connect attorney volunteers with disaster-related service opportunities in their communities. If you are an attorney and would like to assist Harvey victims, go to texasbar.com/attorneyvolunteer.

The State Bar of Texas is here to serve you. You can find additional recovery resources at texasbar.com/disasters.

G. Thomas Vick Jr., a partner in Vick Carney LLP in Weatherford, is the 2017-2018 president of the State Bar of Texas.

State Bar offers legal hotline to help Texans affected by Harvey

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 14:18

Due to dangerous conditions predicted in advance of Tropical Storm Harvey’s imminent landfall, the State Bar of Texas is reminding residents of its legal hotline — (800) 504-7030.

The hotline — answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese — connects low-income people affected by a disaster with legal aid providers in their area who can help with such issues as replacing lost documents, answering insurance questions, helping with landlord-tenant problems, and handling consumer protection concerns such as price-gouging and contractor scams during the rebuilding process.

Callers can leave a message at any time. People who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help.

Additional resources are available at texasbar.com/disasters, texaslegalanswers.org, and texaslawhelp.org.

The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that solicitation of a potential legal case is a crime unless the lawyer has a family relationship with you or you have been a client of the lawyer in the past or are currently a client. Solicitation of you is also a crime if perpetrated by a non-lawyer employee or representative of the lawyer, unless the previous conditions exist. Please report any prohibited contacts by lawyers or their representatives, whether in person, telephone, or otherwise, to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas at (877) 953-5535.

Vick: 7 candidates to interview for State Bar executive director

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 13:54

Editor’s note: President Tom Vick sent the following message today to members of the State Bar of Texas. 

I’m pleased to update you on our search for a new executive director of the State Bar of Texas. Interest in the job has been high—more than 130 people from across the country submitted expressions of interest. After careful review, our Executive Director Search Committee has selected the following seven candidates, listed in alphabetical order, to interview:

  • E.A. Trey Apffel III, Principal, Apffel Law Firm, League City
  • Deeia Beck, Executive Director and Public Counsel, Office of Public Insurance Counsel (2008-February 2017), Austin
  • Ileana M. Blanco, Partner, DLA Piper, Houston
  • William J. Chriss, Of Counsel, Gravely & Pearson, LLP, Corpus Christi
  • Robert N. Kepple, Executive Director, Texas District and County Attorneys Association, Austin
  • Alicia G. Key, Law Office of Alicia Key, Austin
  • D. Hull Youngblood Jr., Of Counsel, Ford Murray, San Antonio

The search committee will interview these candidates in Austin and recommend a nominee to the State Bar Board of Directors, which elects the executive director by a majority vote. The board will consider the committee’s recommendation at an open meeting on September 22 in Lubbock.

We are following the process that search committee chair Bob Black laid out in an email to all members on June 21, which was also published in the July issue of the Texas Bar Journal. To review: The State Bar board in April appointed the search committee, a diverse group of private citizens, people with significant experience in hiring executive leadership, members of the State Bar board, and other members of the bar. A committee roster is available at texasbar.com/ed-search.

The search committee developed a job description, which was posted on the State Bar website in early May and published in the May issue of the Texas Bar Journal. To ensure a comprehensive search, the committee approved the hiring of a respected national firm, Young Mayden LLC, to conduct the search and recruit potential candidates. Young Mayden has wide-ranging experience conducting executive director searches for bar associations throughout the country, including the Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York State, Wisconsin, and American bar associations.

The search committee held meetings this summer to vet potential candidates, from which emerged the seven highly qualified people named above.

Our new executive director will succeed Michelle Hunter, who is retiring August 31 after nearly nine years as executive director and two decades on the State Bar staff. State Bar Legal Counsel John Sirman will serve as interim executive director until the new executive director begins work.

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments on the search process. It is an honor to serve as your State Bar president.

Sincerely,

Tom Vick
President, State Bar of Texas

Diversity increases at some Austin law firms

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 07:30

Fred Sultan, past chair of the State Bar’s LGBTQ Section; Manuel Escobar, past chair of the bar’s Hispanic Issues Section; Laura Fowler, principal of the Fowler Law Firm; and Rudolph K. Metayer, past president of the Austin Black Lawyers Association on August 10, 2017 at Gardere’s downtown Austin office for the presentation of the Diversity Report Card results.

As Austin continues to grow, the number of minority attorneys increased during the past year at some of the city’s firms, according to a report released August 9.

The Law Firm Diversity Report Card grades the city’s law firms on their hiring, promotion, and retention of attorneys of diverse races, genders, and sexual orientations. The report card, which began in 2011, is a collaboration among the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Back Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin, the Austin LGBT Bar Association, and the Travis County Women Lawyers Association.

For the first time ever, the grade requirements changed. To receive a grade of “A,” Austin offices of responding firms had to be comprised of at least 16.75 percent minority attorneys, which reflects the percentage of minority attorneys practicing in Travis County. Last year that number was 15 percent. Twenty-five law firms responded to the survey.

Other notable findings from this year’s report card, which is available on the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin website, include:

• For the second year, the report included detailed data regarding women attorneys and partners within the city’s law firms. But because its aim is to focus on racial and ethnic diversity, the report card did not consider these statistics when assigning grades. The data was released in a separate report that shows percentages of women associates and partners, both equity and non-equity.
• Eleven firms reported having openly LGBT attorneys, an increase of three from last year’s total. These included: Husch Blackwell, the Fowler Law Firm, Gardere Wynne Sewell, Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, Baker Botts, Jackson Walker, Scott Douglass & McConnico, Norton Rose Fulbright, McGinnis Lochridge, Locke Lord, and Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody.
• The total number of minority attorneys employed by Austin’s largest firms increased to 203 in 2016, up from 195 in 2015 (and up from 121 reported minority attorneys in 2011).
• Thirteen law firms earned A’s including two that earned a B in 2015:
Andrews Kurth
Baker Botts
Duggins Wren Mann & Romero
The Fowler Law Firm
Gardere Wynne Sewell
Greenberg Traurig
Husch Blackwell
Jackson Walker
Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend
Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith
Scott Douglass & McConnico
Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Back to school savings

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 08:00

Gear up for school with great savings from your Beneplace discount program! Shop backpacks, tablets, supplies and more – everything you need to be a back-to-school brainiac.

  • ShieldX2 – Never worry about your phone breaking again. ShieldX2 is more than just a phone case, it’s peace of mind. Save 40%!
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  • Diamondback – Head back to school in style with a new bike from Diamondback or Raleigh! Save up to 40%, plus enjoy free shipping.
  • eBags – eBags is your one-stop source for best-in-class campus essentials! Shop backpacks, totes, headphones and more.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

Registration under way for annual paralegal CLE event

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:24

By Megan Goor

The State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division is hosting its annual three-day CLE event October 4-6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison. Early registration has been extended until August 22.

The Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar, or TAPS, is a three-day conference for paralegals that includes up to 14 hours of continuing legal education in a variety of specialties along with networking events and other professional development opportunities. There is an option for one-day or three-day registration. This year’s theme is “TAPS Unmasqued—Knowledge Awaits 2017.”

The keynote speaker is Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Mike Ware, who will discuss the Texas “junk science” statute and how it helped lead to the release of the “San Antonio Four.” Ware, an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, will also talk about the making of a documentary film on the San Antonio Four case and about his work on other wrongful conviction cases.

Those interested in attending can register online. For more information about the seminar, go to txpd.org/taps.

Stories of Recovery: The Problem Was Me

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 06:00

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

We lawyers are all pretty clever.

We spend our careers trying to distinguish our facts to gain an advantage in a case. At first, chasing that advantage felt exciting but, in time, it began to feel stressful, and I began to need to “take the edge off” those feelings by drinking them away. Now in my eighth year of recovery, I’m convinced that I cannot safely use drugs or alcohol to “take the edge off,” even where others safely can. By enlarging my spiritual life after getting clean and sober, I’ve been so much more joyful, peaceful, and true to myself that I don’t want to use them anymore.

If you’re scornful about that, I hear you. Until 2009, I thought “better living through chemistry” was an ideal to be practiced so that we all got the proportions right for ourselves. If I had a problem, I’d seek a doctor to solve it. This worked, until it didn’t work anymore. What I didn’t get was that I didn’t have to figure out everything by myself, and that my fears and feelings were similar to others’.

It didn’t start that way. I was naturally competitive, and an athlete most of my life. I didn’t drink or use drugs much during high school and college, but that was when I started “experimenting” because it made me feel grown up, cool, a part of something. I wasn’t afraid to talk to guys when drinking or smoking pot. If I honestly look back, I was in denial in high school when I said that I didn’t like drinking or smoking because it changed the way I felt, and I wanted to stay “sharp.” All I knew was that I didn’t want to end up like either my alcoholic grandfather or a brother then struggling with drugs.

I was successful for decades, despite some consequences. I accidentally killed the family cat the first time I drove drunk in high school. Sometimes, I blacked out or made a fool of myself. I figured that everyone drank like me.

The problem was that the problem was me. I thought I’d cleverly scaled the social ladder and the career ladder, and that I’d kept up with the Joneses, at least for right now. That, I would celebrate. However, I rarely had peace—more like fear that I was an imposter, or that I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere.

So I lived a double life. I lived how I thought you thought I should live. This made for more “taking the edge off,” or “celebrating.” I needed to look good, so I worked hard—at work, and at sports.

Then I broke my back, which changed my life.

It took a year and a half for doctors to determine I needed surgery, after which I still couldn’t play the law firm game, or sports, or most likely have children. At the end of that year, naturally I figured my life was over. I’d been on increasing doses of an opiate pain cocktail to treat my back pain, and I chose the drugs.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, this gave me the “peace” I thought I needed. I wouldn’t have to worry about those fears, those disappointments! I wouldn’t have to try hard to impress you anymore. I could just check out—and I wasn’t my grandfather or my brother because, you see, I was taking prescription medication. I needed it; they didn’t. I was different.

I learned about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction in treatment. I wasn’t a weak person; the disease affects my reasoning and reward center, and at some point, I can no longer control how much I take. However, it’s also a spiritual malady, because I had no way to cope with life.

Ultimately, I’d tried to cope with life by using alcohol and drugs. When I heard that, I thought, “No way I’m buying into this; I’m an intellectual—spirituality is for followers, and I’m a leader. Everyone has probably overreacted.” But I had to be honest with myself and open-minded to people’s suggestions.

I quickly learned that normal people don’t need an intervention. It didn’t matter that my drugs were prescribed, that I took them according to prescription, and that I didn’t doctor shop. I didn’t have to doctor shop, because my doctor gave me all I “needed,” and over the eight years I was on those prescriptions my dosage was increasing. I also learned that drugs and alcohol weren’t working as a solution.

I decided to try recovery, because I didn’t have a better answer, and at first the successes others were experiencing kept me going, day by day. I’m learning to be true to myself and my purpose, and I get this from spiritual actions such as prayer, meditation, and helping others. Also, the power of this disease scared me. For example, a friend with whom I used to party in college recently died of liver failure.

It takes work, but so does investing, or getting into shape. Who knew the results would be amazing? Although my back still limits my activities, my life and spirit feel infinitely bigger. I stay in recovery today because I find joy in other pursuits, and in my relationships with family and friends.

Two State Bar of Texas leaders find even more in common

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 06:34

2017-18 State Bar of Texas President G. Thomas Vick Jr. (left) and former State Bar president F.R. “Buck” Files Jr.

When G. Thomas Vick Jr. was sworn in as 2017-18 president of the State Bar of Texas on June 23, he cemented an unusual resume he shares with his colleague and peer F. R. “Buck” Files Jr.

Within five years, the two men have each attained the prestigious positions of president of the State Bar of Texas and chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees. The similarities don’t stop there. Of course both are juniors, but they are also very proud to both be Austin College graduates.

Vick, a partner in Vick Carney LLP in Weatherford, is a 1977 graduate of Austin College who majored in economics and history. He went on to get his Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in 1981. Vick served as chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees in 2013-14.

Vick’s fellow ‘Roo alum Files, a shareholder in Bain, Files, Jarrett & Harrison, PC in Tyler, served as State Bar president in 2012-13 and as chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees in 2016-17. Files graduated from Austin College with a bachelor’s in history in 1960 before obtaining his J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1963. Files also served for 12 years as a member of the Austin College Board of Trustees.

Vick is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) and has published dozens of works on various aspects of the law. Files is certified in criminal law by the TBLS and in criminal trial advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Their complete resumes are far too expansive for this blog post.

But besides all of their professional accomplishments, both men are very proud of their liberal arts roots.

“I did not realize the value of my Austin College education until I entered law school,” Files said. “Then, I understood how the rigorous course work and demanding—but caring—faculty had prepared me for that experience. Now, 57 years later, I can look back and reflect on how much that liberal arts education, with its emphasis on critical thinking, has shaped who I am today. Our current graduates are receiving this same education, and have the benefit of advocacy programs, such as mock trials, that prepare them for success in the best of law schools and in life.”

Second District Court of Appeals Chief Justice Terrie Livingston announces retirement

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:15

Second District Court of Appeals Chief Justice Terrie Livingston plans to retire September 8, 2017. Livingston, who has served as a justice since 1994, was appointed as the court’s chief justice in 2010 by former Gov. Rick Perry and reelected in 2012.

“It has been an honor to serve our 12 counties these last 22 plus years, and to work with our justices here and across the State of Texas,” Livingston said in a press release. “We also have some of the best lawyers and support staff that continuously step up when needed; our production is top notch.”

Livingston began her legal career in 1980, working for several law firms and later her own practice. She created the first budget for the Tarrant County Bar Association and served as chair of the Tarrant County Bar Foundation in 2007. In 2015, Livingston received the Tarrant County Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, which recognizes a member of the judiciary who has served on the bench for at least a decade and has made many notable contributions.

National task force tackles lawyer well-being in new report

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:19

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being today released a comprehensive report that makes recommendations for improving lawyer well-being, including addressing substance use and metal health disorders.

The report’s recommendations focus on central themes, including:

  • Eliminating stigma associated with seeking help.
  • Emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence.
  • Taking incremental steps to change how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.

Read the full press release on the report here.

State Bar of Texas wins national award for diversity program

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 11:45

Accepting the ABA Partnership Award for the Texas Minority Counsel Program, from left, are 2017 TMCP Steering Committee co-chair Jesús Castillón, State Bar of Texas Executive Director Michelle Hunter, State Bar of Texas Office of Minority Affairs director Caren Cheavens, State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick, 2017 TMCP Steering Committee co-chair Aparna Dave, and State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Frank Stevenson.

The State Bar of Texas today received a national award for one of its signature efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

The Texas Minority Counsel Program (TMCP) received one of three ABA Partnership Awards during an awards ceremony held in conjunction with the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York. The ABA Partnership Awards Program salutes bar association projects directed at increasing the participation and advancement of diverse lawyers.

Read the full news release here.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Texas City

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 08:00

Veterans in need of legal help can visit a free clinic on Saturday, August 19, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Texas City VA Outpatient Clinic, 9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expwy., Ste. 206, Texas City 77591.

The event will provide veterans or spouses of deceased veterans with one-on-one counsel from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including, family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate, and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans in need of legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney to handle their case.

For more information about the clinic—organized by the Galveston Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative—and additional services to veterans, call (713) 759-1133 or go to www.hba.org.

Legal Mapmaker™ seminar aims to help young lawyers open firms

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 14:30

Young lawyers interested in establishing their own law firms can get guidance at a three-day seminar at Baylor Law School , August 16-18.

Legal Mapmaker™, which is sponsored by Baylor Law School in collaboration with other law schools and the State Bar of Texas, aims to equip new lawyers with the tools to start practices that provide legal services to the public efficiently and affordably.

This year’s event, which will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth,
will feature one-on-one sessions with experts and live presentations on several topics, including:

• Mission & Professionalism
• Building a Powerful Network
• Alternative Fee Arrangements
• Business Planning
• Cyber Security
• Technology
• Financial Management
• Health & Wellness
• Office & Staffing
• Marketing
• Website Development
• Avoiding Malpractice
• Professional Liability Coverage
• Bar & Community Involvement
• Client Relations & Delivery of Services
• Case Evaluation & Referrals
• State Bar Member Benefits
• Coaching

Legal Mapmaker™ is anticipated to count for up to 16 hours of total Texas CLE credit, which includes up to three hours of ethics credit. An application for accreditation for this activity has been submitted to the MCLE Committee of the State Bar of Texas and is pending.

For registration and additional details, go to http://www.legalmapmaker.com/RSVP-2017

Zaffirini appointed Texas Access to Justice Commission senate liaison

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 07:00

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate, has been appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to the Texas Access to Justice Commission. Zaffirini will help the commission expand civil legal aid resources to low-income Texans.

The Laredo native has received more than 900 awards and honors for her public service and legislative work.

“We are honored to have Sen. Zaffirini appointed as our Senate Access to Justice Liaison,” said Texas Access to Justice Commission Chair Harry M. Reasoner in a press release. “The senator has worked closely and effectively with the commission on important access to justice legislation. She is a great champion of fair treatment and justice for all.”

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate, has been appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to the Texas Access to Justice Commission. Zaffirini will help the commission expand civil legal aid resources to low-income Texans.

The Laredo native has received more than 900 awards and honors for her public service and legislative work.

“We are honored to have Sen. Zaffirini appointed as our Senate Access to Justice Liaison,” said Texas Access to Justice Commission Chair Harry M. Reasoner in a press release. “The senator has worked closely and effectively with the commission on important access to justice legislation. She is a great champion of fair treatment and justice for all.”

Technology savings for summer

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 08:00

Beat the heat this summer with cool technology savings from your Beneplace discount website. You’ll find great deals on computers, phone cases, headphones and more. Browse the “Electronics” category on the site to view and compare offers.

Save on all your audio needs – from headphones and speakers to microphones and cables. Save up to 30% and enjoy exclusive members-only offers from Monster. Or save on the audio of the future with Sennheiser, where sound comes alive.

Save up to 60% with Panasonic! You’ll find everything from appliances and cameras to massage chairs and vacuum cleaners. Or save 20% on IBM Certified Pre-owned PCs, tablets and more – it’s a great way to enjoy top-rated, leading-edge technology at a fraction of the cost.

Finally, protect your devices from the elements with great savings from OtterBox, ShieldX2, and LifeProof. You’ll save up to 40% and enjoy peace of mind knowing your technology is protected.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

Free legal clinic to be held for veterans in Tomball

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 07:30

Veterans can receive free legal advice at a clinic hosted by the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative on Saturday, August 5.

The clinic will offer veterans and spouses of deceased veterans advice and counsel from volunteer attorneys in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits.

Those who qualify for legal aid and are in need of ongoing legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney to take their case.

The clinic will also be held in conjunction with a free Veterans Benefits Fair sponsored by the Texas Veterans Commission, the Veterans Land Board, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The clinic, which does not require an appointment, will be held at the Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic, 1200 W. Main St., Tomball 77375 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at (713) 759-1133 or go to hba.org.

Dallas County residents can attend free legal clinics in August

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:15

Qualifying Dallas County residents will receive free legal help at 10 clinics hosted in August by the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

The clinics will offer legal advice and consultation in civil matters for residents who meet Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas’ eligibility guidelines. Applicants are asked to bring proof of income, identification, legal papers, and other pertinent documents.

The clinics begin at 5 p.m., with the exception of the Veteran’s Clinic, which begins at 1:30 p.m.:

East Dallas

  • Grace United Methodist Church, 4105 Junius St., Dallas 75246
  • August 3 and 17

South Dallas

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 2922 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dallas 75215
  • August 1 and 22

West Dallas

  • West Dallas Multipurpose Center, 2828 Fish Trap Rd., Dallas 75212
  • August 10 and 24

Garland

  • Salvation Army, 451 W. Ave. D, Garland 75040
  • August 17

Friendship West Baptist Church

  • 2020 W. Wheatland Rd., Dallas 75232
  • August 16

Veterans Resource Center (for veterans and their families)

  • 4900 S. Lancaster Rd., Dallas 75216
  • August 4

 For more information, go to dallasvolunteerattorneyprogram.org.

Guest blog: The life of a small-town attorney

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 08:46

I have lived in Houston almost my entire life and have always considered myself an urbanite. My wife and I love the trappings of the city—musicals, museums, and dim sum, to name a few. But in June I moved to San Angelo, with a population of about 100,700, and you cannot convince me to go back.

In Houston, I had a difficult time finding a job, being the first lawyer in my family and not knowing anyone in the profession. In my experience, I found that most law firms were not in the market to hire a recent graduate. When I graduated from South Texas College of Law Houston, my grades were perfectly average. I suspect that I was screened out of most every entry-level job I applied for because of my undistinguished academic record.

The job application process was incredibly frustrating; I am not my GPA. I am thoughtful and charismatic. I have an eye for detail and an eidetic memory. My writing is clear, succinct, and persuasive. I turned my attention west.

I had read an article in the Texas Bar Journal describing the need for young lawyers to move to more rural parts of the state. I learned that less populous counties were struggling to keep up with demands for legal services, especially as more lawyers retired.

It is all true.

I received a call for an interview 45 minutes after I submitted my resume to a firm in San Angelo.

Once I made the move, it didn’t take long to figure out that the lifestyle of a small-town attorney is for me.

In Houston, the courthouse was 30 minutes from my office (without traffic), and I would pay $6 to park in a lot four blocks away. There are four probate judges in Harris County. I never met any of them. I only made appearances in front of a magistrate or associate judges. I avoided going to the courthouse because of the hassle and, when I was in the gallery waiting my turn, I never had a conversation with the same attorney twice.

In San Angelo, the courthouse is five minutes from my office (there is no traffic), and I park on the street right in front. There are four district judges in Tom Green County, and all of themknow me by name. I am at the courthouse two or three times a week, and usually I see the same 15 or 20 lawyers.

While I have not found a dim sum restaurant or a Rothko in Tom Green County, I have discovered a community I am proud to be a part of and have learned that I can do meaningful work on interesting cases for good and decent people.

If you need a less altruistic reason to make the move out west, I have also found that there is money to be made in small-town Texas. By considering a move to a less than urban part of the state, I have changed the course of my life and my career for the better. There is plenty of room out here for you to do the same.

Derick Lancaster is an associate of the Skinner Law Firm in San Angelo where he practices criminal and family law. You can reach him at derick@lawfirmsanangelo.com.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Richmond

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 08:00

A free clinic in Richmond will offer legal advice to veterans on Saturday, July 29, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Volunteer attorneys will be available to advise any veteran or spouse of a deceased veteran in several areas of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate law, and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans in need of representation and who qualify for legal aid, may be assigned a pro bono attorney.

No appointment is necessary.

The clinic takes place at the Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 Southwest Fwy., Ste. 200, Richmond 77469. The event is a public service of Fort Bend Lawyers Care, the Fort Bend County Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

For more information, go to www.hba.org or call (713) 759-1133.

Discounts for vacations

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 08:00

It’s not too late to plan the perfect summer vacation! Your Beneplace discount website has great savings on car rentals, cruise vacations, hotel rates and more. Browse the “Travel” category on the site to view and compare offers to find the best deals for your trip.

  • Get moving. Book your rental car through Enterprise or Payless and take advantage of exclusive employee rates.
  • Set sail. Use Cruise & Vacation perks to get the lowest available fare plus a 4% cash-back reward on all cruise vacations.
  • Sleep it off. Save up to 60% on your room rate with Discount Hotel Reservations, where you have access to over 225,000 hotels, including: Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Ritz Carlton, Lowes, Choice, Best Western and more.
  • Save big. For economy lodging, stay at Red Roof Inn—they have over 380 locations nationwide and you can save 15% on your room.
  • Travel the world. Save up to 20% at 18 participating Wyndham Hotel brands and nearly 8,000 properties worldwide.
  • Get away from it all. TripBeat makes it easy, convenient and affordable to search and book resort vacations. You have access to more than 2,400 resort condo rental properties in desirable destinations in approximately 90 countries. Book a 7-night vacation for only $399.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

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