The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is partnering with the Texas Attorney General’s Office to host two open government seminars in the San Antonio and Edinburg areas in June, featuring training in state open meeting and public records laws. The events are free and open to the public.
The half-day seminars — designed for government employees, journalists, attorneys and members of the general public who want to learn more about the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act — will take place on June 7 in San Antonio and June 13 in Edinburg.
The San Antonio event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on June 7 at the Victory Center at San Antonio College, 1819 N. Main Avenue. The AG’s office will begin the day with training on the Texas Public Information Act at 9 a.m., followed by training on TPIA cost rules. At 11:30 a.m., FOI Foundation Board Member and Attorney Tom Williams will present a session on the Texas Open Meetings Act. Participants may attend either or both sessions.
The Edinburg event will be held from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., June 13 at the County Commissioners Court Chambers, Annex III, 100 E. Cano Street. Williams will again present on the Texas Open Meetings Act and be followed by the AG’s office, at 2:15 p.m., which will highlight the Texas Public Information Act and associated cost rules. Participants may attend either or both sessions.
The seminars meet the state requirements for open government training for public officials and qualify as Continuing Legal Education for attorneys through the State Bar of Texas.
Register here to attend the seminars.
For more information, contact the FOI Foundation office at 512-377-1575.
The Managing Director’s Office of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released bar pass data for ABA-approved law schools that lists pass rates based on race, ethnicity, and gender.
The charts include aggregate data in nine different ethnicity categories for 2021 and 2022 broken down by gender. The report uses data reported to the ABA by 196 law schools accepting new students in their ABA Standard 509 questionnaire in the past two years.
“This is the second consecutive year that the section is releasing this data in response to concerns about the lack of national data on bar passage by members of different racial and ethnic groups,” Bill Adams, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education, said in a press release. “We promised to collect and publish such aggregate data and consider whether the requirements of Standard 316 needed to be reviewed in light of what we collected. We will continue to evaluate the annual data and consider any changes as appropriate.”
Since 2019, when revisions were made to the Standard 316 bar passage rule, ABA-approved law schools must have 75% of their law students pass their bar exams within two years of graduation. Failure to do so results in schools being found out of compliance. The ABA’s legal education section maintains percentage pass rates for first-time takes and the two-year aggregate figure, which is known as the “ultimate” pass rate.
For more information, go to americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/statistics.
Texas Bar Foundation donates $6,000 to Tarrant County nonprofit
The Texas Bar Foundation’s donation to Alliance For Children will help facilitate the presentation of a new training course—Behavioral Characteristics of Sex Offenders— for staff and partners. The course will be led by Michael L. Bourke, a former chief psychologist for the U.S. Marshals Service.
“Alliance [F]or Children’s board, staff and partners are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for its commitment to communities across Texas,” Julie Evans, Alliance For Children’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “While we long for a day that child sexual abuse is eliminated, advanced training on the psychological and behavioral characteristics of sex offenders is a valuable tool for the child abuse professionals in Tarrant County towards our collective goal of protecting children and seeking justice.”
Alliance For Children works with groups such as the Texas Bar Foundation to provide services to clients and their families. With the help of 33 Tarrant County law enforcement agencies, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Cook Children’s Medical Center, JPS Health Network, Tarrant County Juvenile Services, and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, Alliance For Children served 2,497children in 2020-2021.
For more information, go to allianceforchildren.org.
In Today’s legal market, the practice of law is becoming even more competitive. Lawyers are continuously striving for any advantage to distinguish themselves amongst their peers. As a legal vanity organization, Lawyers of Distinction offers a wide array of options for Lawyers to find a competitive edge when it comes to marketing their services to the legal community and prospective clientele.
Lawyers of Distinction takes a multi-pronged approach to helping their members ‘Distinguish Themselves.’
One of the most useful tools provided by Lawyers of Distinction is their approach to harnessing the power of social media. Social media has taken off exponentially since first introduced and companies use the intrinsic value of social media to market their services to a continuously growing audience. Lawyers of Distinction uses its presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to highlight the organization’s members and their legal achievements.
All members receive a customized welcome post across all of Lawyers of Distinction’s social media platforms upon joining the organization which serves to welcome the new member as well as highlight this honor to Lawyers of Distinction’s diverse community. Members are also able to highlight their legal accomplishments via individualized posts on Facebook and Twitter along with Lawyers of Distinction’s monthly newsletter. By showcasing their members across a variety of social media platforms, Lawyers of Distinction excels at aiding their clients standout among their peers.
Another exciting option for Lawyers of Distinction members is the ability to order custom made member videos. These videos are individually tailored to offer a concise overview of an attorney’s practice and accomplishments and can be embedded in the attorney’s website and social media platforms. In a time where short format production is consumed en masse by the public, Lawyers of Distinction’s member videos allow for their members to reach an even wider audience. While many legal vanity organizations strive to promote their members, none of them come close to Lawyers of Distinction when it comes to marketing its members.
For further information on Lawyers of Distinction and how it can help benefit you and your law practice, visit lawyersofdistinction.com.
The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee has announced its 2022 Pro Bono Excellence awards winners.
Michael Logan Ware, of Fort Worth, received the Frank J. Scurlock Award; the Rev. Brooks Harrington, of Fort Worth, received the J. Chrys Dougherty Award; Judge Jerry W. Simoneaux Jr., of Harris County Probate Court 1 in Houston, received the Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award; Metroplex Veterans Legal Services, of Dallas, received the Pro Bono Award; Audrey F. Momanaee, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; Stacey Manela, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Support Staff Award; and Sidley Austin LLP of Dallas received the W. Frank Newton Award.
The Frank J. Scurlock Award—Michael Logan Ware
The Frank J. Scurlock Award honors an individual attorney in good standing who has provided outstanding pro bono work. Throughout his more than 30-year career, Ware has provided pro bono criminal defense services to dozens of clients and put in thousands of hours of work to ensure they had adequate counsel regardless of their ability to pay.
Ware’s pro bono cases in recent years have typically been through direct requests from pro bono clients or their family members. Ware has provided pro bono criminal defense services to three clients in the past two years totaling approximately 160 hours of work.
Chrys Dougherty Award—the Rev. Brooks Harrington
The J. Chrys Dougherty Award recognizes an outstanding legal services staff attorney. Harrington founded the Methodist Justice Ministry, or MJM, in January 2006 to assist low-income clients with protective orders, divorces, and custody cases with a focus on protecting women and children. Since its inception, MJM has filed 2,100 cases. In total, MJM has provided legal protection to approximately 2,300 women and children in the past 17 years.
Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award—Judge Jerry W. Simoneaux Jr.
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.
With critical support from Simoneaux, Houston Volunteer Lawyers leveraged its 2021 CLE and judicial training materials to recruit over 230 pro bono attorneys who agreed to handle a probate matter in 2021. Simoneaux also helps plan and execute Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ annual Guardianship & Ad Litem Certification CLE.
Pro Bono Award—Metroplex Veterans Legal Services
The Pro Bono Award honors a volunteer attorney organization that has made an outstanding contribution toward guaranteeing access to the legal system by the poor. Metroplex Veterans Legal Services, MVLS, was founded in 2013 and is the only statewide veterans-focused pro bono legal clinic program in Texas. Its legal clinics focus on removing the legal barriers to employment and housing for veterans and assisting disabled veterans in obtaining military/VA disability benefits. MVLS has approximately 342 volunteer attorneys in addition to 19 assistant attorney generals working alongside the attorney general of Texas.
Pro Bono Coordinator Award—Audrey F. Momanaee
The Pro Bono Coordinator Award is presented to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the delivery of, and access to legal services for the poor. This individual also serves as the pro bono coordinator for a volunteer attorney organization or group, local bar association, law firm, law school, corporate legal office, governmental law department, or legal services organization.
Momanaee has worked tirelessly on numerous pro bono activities, including the “No One Left Behind” initiative, which helps Afghanis who fear persecution and harm in their homeland obtain humanitarian parole and legal entry into the United States. She has also encouraged attorneys at her office to provide pro bono support to over a dozen pro bono guardianship matters and many other family law matters.
Pro Bono Support Staff Award—Stacey Manela
The Pro Bono Support Staff Award recognizes the exemplary contributions of non-attorney volunteers such as paralegals, administrative assistants, interpreters, and other support staff who work on pro bono projects.
Manela is one of the most skilled providers of trial graphics in the field. Her firm, Art of Facts, provides trial graphics and litigation support for many of the most well-respected firms in Houston. She is widely recognized as the go-to person in Houston for trial graphics and trial support.
W. Frank Newton Award—Sidley Austin LLP
The W. Frank Newton Award recognizes the pro bono contribution of attorney groups whose members have made an outstanding contribution in the provision of, or access to legal services to the poor. Sidley’s Dallas office has been an indispensable partner to Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program’s, or DVAP’s, mission to recruit, train, and support volunteer attorneys to provide free, civil legal help and full representation to low-income people in Dallas County across a variety of cases.
Last October, DVAP named Sidley “Law Firm of the Year” at its 2021 Pro Bono Awards. This was the second year that DVAP awarded the firm this recognition for its tireless dedication to pro bono service.
Should this be “Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award”?
Should this be “Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award”?